News

Denmark: Talks on lower turnover threshold

Premium 01 June 2000

The draft amendment to the Danish Competition Act has been tabled in the Danish Parliament, but not yet approved.

Hungary: Office pursues high stakes policy

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The decision is a significant example of the Competition Office’s recent ‘permissive’ practice.

VEBA/VIAG

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VEBA and VIAG are planning a merger that could create the second-largest electricity group in Germany and a key global speciality-chemicals group.

Siemens/ Bosch/ Atecs Mannesmann

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Siemens and Bosch have agreed jointly to acquire Atecs Mannesmann, the holding company of the engineering and automotive businesses of Mannesmann (consisting of Dematic, Demag-Krauss Maffei, Rexroth, Sachs and VDO). The businesses are being divested as a result of the Vodafone/Mannesmann merger, in a deal worth approximately $10 billion.

Glaxo Wellcome/ Smithkline Beecham

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The proposed $180-billion SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome merger, announced on January 17, creates the largest pharmaceuticals company in the world.

US International Paper/ Champion International

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International Paper’s unsolicited bid of $7.3 billion for rival firm Champion International Corporation squeezed out Europe’s UPM-Kymmene, which had made a bid for Champion in February.

European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Company (EADS)

Premium 01 June 2000

A number of defence mergers cutting across jurisdictions have raised competition issues in recent months. On May 11, the European Commission authorised the merger between Daimler- Chrysler’s aerospace subsidiary DASA, Aérospatiale Matra and CASA (Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA) to form the European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Company (EADS). The merger created Europe’s largest aerospace company.

UK: Competition Commission reports on the supply of new cars in the UK

Premium 01 June 2000

How the UK government proceeds from here remains to be seen. It has published a draft Order under the FTA to deal with some of the practices which do not fall within the Block Exemption and has sent a copy of the Commission’s report to the European Commission for their consideration. However, tackling the problem of the Block Exemption will not be easy, and until that is achieved the UK government will be unable to really get to the root of the problem and open up the market to more competition.

Italy: Ruling limits scope of judicial review

Premium 01 June 2000

The judgment by the Consiglio di Stato defines the boundaries of judicial review by ensuring that judges do not substitute the Competition Authority’s discretionary assessment of the merits of a case with their own assessment. Indeed, it must be recognised that, because of their technical competence, independent authorities are better placed to judge the merits of a case than the administrative courts. Conversely, the judgment could not be interpreted as limiting the scope of parties to appeal. In fact, scrutiny of the decisions of the Autorità Garante remains stringent. The judges of the Consiglio di Stato confirmed that, in order to avoid exceeding its powers, the Authority must conduct a thorough market analysis, omitting no circumstance which is relevant to the definition of a case, and give a full account of the grounds upon which it bases its decision. The scope of judicial review of the Italian Administrative Courts in competition cases thus appears consistent with that of the European Courts under Article 230 (ex 173) of the EC Treaty.

EU: Appeal against 'non-binding' dominant position ruling inadmissible

Premium 01 June 2000

Paradoxically, the Court’s judgment increases the importance for companies of ensuring that the European Commission defines the market correctly first time round - as such decisions will not be subject to appeal if the ultimate decision is in the applicant’s favour. Furthermore, although changing market conditions must be taken into account, and previous decisions will not constitute binding precedent, it is difficult to see how the Commission and other competition authorities will not be influenced by previous findings on market definition, dominance or control. Unless there are some far-reaching changes in the market place, it looks as if Coca-Cola will have to live with a finding of dominance in the British cola market for some time to come.