News

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.

Spain: Competition law reform

Premium 01 December 1997

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.

United Kingdom: Common merger application form

Premium 01 December 1997

As an attempt to simplify procedures, the move to a uniformly recognised questionnaire should be welcomed. As a practical matter, however, the benefits of the new system are limited. The new form reflects the difficulties involved in achieving effective simplification.

Department of Justice v Microsoft

Premium 01 December 1997

The US Department of Justice hopes to clarify some problems in the antitrust field in relation to technology when it prosecutes computer software giant Microsoft. The DoJ has filed a petition in the District of Columbia asking a judge to find the company in breach of a consent decree of 1995 requiring the company to alter the way it supplied software to personal computer manufacturers.

Sentrachem/Dow Chemical

Premium 01 November 1997

US-based giant Dow Chemical announced at the end of August that the board of directors of South African based chemical company Sentrachem had accepted its revised offer to acquire all the shares of Sentrachem. Dow’s revised offer is 11.75 South African rand per share (US $2.50).

AT&T/STET/Unisource

Premium 01 November 1997

US telecommunications giant AT&T and Italian telecommunications group Stet/Telcom Italia formed a 50-50 strategic partnership in Latin America in July, while in Europe Stet/Telcom Italia joined the pan-European joint venture between AT&T and Unisource NV.

Capital Radio/Virgin Radio

Premium 01 November 1997

UK-based radio stations Capital Radio and Virgin Radio’s plan to merge was referred to the MMC in July.

PacifiCorp/The Energy Group

Premium 01 November 1997

US energy company PacifiCorp made a £3.6 billion cash offer for UK-based The Energy Group in June, which is being investigated by the MMC in the UK.

National Express Group/ScotRail franchise/Central Trains franchise

Premium 01 November 1997

UK-based rail operator National Express Group acquired the seven-year franchises of Scotrail and Central Trains in February.

Travelers Group/Salomon

Premium 01 November 1997

US financial conglomerate Travelers Group and US bank Salomon announced in September that they had agreed to merge Salomon with Travelers Group’s Smith Barney Holdings to create Salomon Smith Barney.