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

Premium 01 April 2001

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.

Germany: Customers hampered in efforts to change electricity supplier

Premium 01 April 2001

The position recently taken by a working group on separate network use contracts in the electricity supply market places great emphasis both on the need for competition in the German electricity market and on end-users’ interests. Ulf Böge, President of the Federal Cartel Office, has welcomed the position of the working group as a clear signal that the antitrust authorities are not willing to accept any anti-competitive restriction of third-party access in the liberalised electricity markets. This position will inevitably lead to legal disputes between the antitrust authorities and network operators.

Australia: High Court affirms primacy of distribution system

Premium 01 April 2001

In Melway v Hicks, refusal to deal is held not to be a misuse of market power; a selective distribution scheme is not anti-competitive.

Spain: Merger of two main electricity suppliers abandoned

Premium 01 April 2001

As a result of the regulatory difficulties which mergers between Spanish utilities have faced, and given the two recent aborted transactions involving Unión Fenosa/ Hidrocantábrico and Endesa/Iberdrola, the Spanish electricity market is now being targeted by non-Spanish utilities anxious to establish themselves in the fast-growing Spanish market. These transactions, some of which are being notified to the European Commission, are more likely to gain competition clearance in view of the lack of national overlaps between the different utilities across Europe.

Lufthansa alliance under investigation

Premium 01 April 2001

The German Federal Cartel Office is threatening to block Lufthansa’s attempt to take a minority stake in Eurowings, a regional German airline.

Italy: Merger control as an instrument of market liberalisation: Enel/Infostrada

Premium 01 April 2001

The Italian Authority used the Enel/ Infostrada case as an opportunity to accelerate the liberalisation of the Italian electricity generation market. In this case it followed the approach adopted by the European Commission in the recent Energie Baden- Württemberg AG (EnBW), Electricité de France (EDF) and Zweckverband Oberschwäbische Elektrizitätswerke merger, which involved the purchase by EDF of certain German electricity companies. The Commission cleared the deal after EDF agreed to make available to competitors 6,000MW located in France - 30 per cent of the eligible market. EDF also agreed to renounce its voting rights in Compagnie Nationale du Rhône and withdraw from the CNR board, among other measures.

Billiton/BHP merger will create largest resorces group

Premium 01 April 2001

A merger of Billiton of the UK and Australia’a BHP has been announced.

Argentina: More flexible procedure for merger notification and control

Premium 01 April 2001

A recent resolution of the Secretary for Competition and the Protection of Consumers has introduced some important changes in the merger control process, in particular a fasttrack proceeding for concentrations which will have only a marginal impact on competition.

Commission cracks down on chemical cartel

Premium 21 February 2001

Fujisawa, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, is undecided about whether to appeal against the European Commission’s fine of 57.53 million euro for operating a secret cartel in the sodium gluconate market, a chemical used to clean metal and glass. Six companies were fined in all.