News

ITT/ Starwood Lodging

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Starwood Lodging, the largest hotel real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States, announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire ITT Corporation, owner of the Sheraton hotel chain, on 20 October.

India: Airport development

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The new airport policy allows flexibility in ownership and management at airports and has paved the way for private airports in India.

Ernst & Young/ KPMG

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The announcement of merger plans by Big Six accountants Ernst & Young and KPMG on 20 October sparked off concerns in a variety of quarters.

Japan: New deregulation plan

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The Japanese Cabinet has approved the Second Revised Deregulation Action Plan. Some of the Plan’s measures include the review of a variety of competition law systems; the deletion of a notice requirement for international contracts; and the submission of an omnibus bill to repeal, reform, or review many of the systems which provide exemptions from the Antimonopoly Act.

Austria: Merger control turnover rules

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The Austrian Cartel Court’s decision to interpret the turnover calculation rules of Austrian merger control somewhat restrictively is very welcome news for all companies engaging in mergers and acquisitions. The court’s interpretation, albeit as yet unconfirmed by the Austrian Supreme Court, will go some way towards making the inclusion of turnover for the purpose of merger control, which is almost open-ended according to the letter of the law, more manageable. In effect, as long as there are no spillover effects to other partners of a joint venture concerned, the decision would seem to exclude the turnover of joint venture partners (and not of the joint venture as such).

Reed Elsevier/ Wolters Kluwer

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Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier last month agreed a £20 billion merger with Amsterdam-based publishing company Wolters Kluwer.

Merrill Lynch/ Mercury Asset Management

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US investment bank Merrill Lynch is attempting to surge ahead of rival global fund managers with its proposed US$3.1 billion takeover of Mercury Asset Management.

France: Multi-merger notification form

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The new common form may give rise (perhaps unintentionally) to an increase in pre-notifications and possibly full notification in France. It will also formalise the pre-notification contact with the DGCCRF.

Spain: Competition law reform

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Although details of the reforms are not yet available, the intention of the government is to introduce far-reaching changes to the Spanish competition law system. In principle, reform is welcome. Firstly, it will introduce a more independent and powerful competition authority by separating the current SDC from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The new reforms will also align the domestic merger control system with the European trend of moving to compulsory regimes. While the TDC currently examines only two or three concentrations per year, the German or Italian authorities examine several hundred. Finally, the changes to the state aid rules (an area which traditionally has a very low rate of enforcement in Spain) will also be significant, allowing interested third parties to request the intervention of the competition authorities.

Finland: Customers illegally tied

Premium 01 December 1997

In its decision to increase the fine proposed by the Office of Free Competition from Fmk3 million to Fmk5 million in a case relating to abuse of a dominant market position, the Competition Council mentioned as an aggravating factor the fact that the form of abuse concerned was both generally condemned and also prohibited under EC Competition Law.