News

Netherlands: First court ruling on Competition Authority's merger decisions

Premium 01 April 2001

An appeal against the Competition Authority’s decision in the Wegener/ VNU newspaper merger has led to an interesting judgment by the competent Court. It is the first case in which the Court has clarified its approach to the Competition Authority’s merger decisions. The decision deals with several important aspects of the Authority’s decision-making and the judicial protection the Court can provide.

Sweden: Competition Authority had little choice but to oppose concentration

Premium 01 April 2001

In a rare but - given the known facts - unsurprising decision, the Competition Authority has blocked the proposed merger between Svenska Girot and Postgirot. But what were the parties thinking of?

Denmark: Simplified procedure under new merger control regime proves a success

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The new simplified procedure for merger control in Denmark has proved both workable and advantageous, and has been used more frequently than the ordinary procedure.

Canada: Competition Bureau seeks to stop anticompetitive practices by Air Canada

Premium 01 April 2001

The Competition Bureau is alleging that excessively low pricing by Air Canada on certain routes will drive low-cost air carriers out of business.

France: Fine for abuse of dominance in the TV advertising market

Premium 01 April 2001

In this case the TV advertising company TF1 Publicité, together with its parent company, the French Television channel TF1, were held to have abused their dominant position and were fined FFr8 million (approximately 1.22 million euro). The amount of the fine is quite substantial, and stems from the fact that the Council maintained its previous position of considering TF1 and its advertising subsidiary to be a single economic entity, therefore calculating the fine on the basis of the previous year’s turnover of the entire group. This case is also one of the rare ones in which the Council has discussed the cumulative effect theory under French competition law.

Ireland: Competition Authority explores possible cartel immunity programme

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The Irish Competition Authority is concentrating its resources on enforcement, particularly on the criminal prosecution of cartels. In parallel with this, it has issued a consultation paper inviting comments on the elements which should be incorporated in a cartel immunity programme. The success of such a programme will depend on whether the Authority’s enforcement activity is seen as a serious threat to cartels and on whether the immunity programme provides cartel participants with sufficient incentives to cooperate with the Authority in particular cases. In relation to both of these questions, the jury is still out.

New Zealand: Shell/Fletcher deal highlights Commission's more relaxed approach

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The Commerce Commission has allowed the merger of two of the biggest players in New Zealand’s oil and gas sector to go ahead despite the merged entity having high market shares in affected markets.

RJB Mining gets rivals' deal annulled

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On January 31 the European Court of First Instance ruled in favour of RJB Mining plc and annulled the European Commission’s approval, under Article 66(2) ECSC, of the merger between three German coal producers (RAG Aktiengesellschaft, Saarbergwerke AG and Preussag Anthrazit GmbH). The judgment represents a rare annulment of merger clearance by the CFI. Furthermore, the reason given by the CFI for declaring the annulment - that in order to ensure consistent application of ECSC Treaty provisions, the Commission should have taken account of the extent to which state aid inherent in the merger strengthened the competitiveness of the merged entity - gives rise to a new obligation on the Commission’s part to consider the competitive consequences of any related state aid in ECSC merger cases. It is possible, although by no means certain, that the Commission’s duty to ensure that the various Treaty provisions on competition are applied consistently could be similarly interpreted in the EC Treaty context, leading to a significant additional obligation to be discharged by the Commission under tight time constraints.

Denmark: Agreements to fix taxi fares in local districts anti-competitive

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The Competition Appeal Board has upheld a decision by the Competition Council prohibiting the imposition of uniform taxi fares within a certain geographic area. According to the Competition Appeal Board, only the maximum prices laid down by Danish legislation are applicable and it is not possible to set uniform or minimum prices. The matter has been brought before the ordinary courts.

Reed Elsevier in bid for Harcourt General

Premium 01 April 2001

Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier is set to buy US-based global publisher Harcourt General’s scientific, technical and medical business and US schools education and testing service for approximately US$5.6 billion, reports say.