Commission will study Court ruling on Schneider/Legrand merger

The EU’s Court of First Instance overturned on 22 October a decision by the Commission’s Competition Authority to bar a merger between French companies Schneider and Legrand.

The Court of First Instance annuled the Commission’s decision because “the Commission’s economic analysis is vitiated by errors and omissions which deprive it of probative value…”. However, the Court does not as such authorise the merger.

Four months ago, the Court overturned another Commission decision to block the merger between the UK travel groups Airtours and First Choice (see

EURACTIV 7 June 2002).

It remains to be seen if these rulings will have any implications on the EU’s current review of its merger rules. Critics of the EU’s merger rules say that the fundamental flaw of the European merger procedure lies in the fact that the Commission’s competition authority is undertaking both the investigation and the decision to halt a merger. In the US system, the merger authority has to prove its cases in court before deals are blocked.

 

The spokesperson ofCompetition Commissioner Monti, Amelia Torres said in a first reaction that the Commission will study the ruling to see whether it would appeal before the European Court of Justice. The Commission has 60 days to do so.

Schneider Electricwelcomed the Court's ruling but remained unsure whether it was still interested in the takeover of rival Legrand. It said that the decision confirmed "the analyses, quality and rigour demonstrated by the Schneider Electric teams throughout the discussion procedures with European Commission competition officials".

 

On 10 October 2001, the Commission prohibited the acquisition of Legrand by Schneider, finding that the merger would considerably weaken competition on a large number of electrical equipment markets.

 

On Friday 25 October, the Court of First Instance will decide on another important case, the takeover of French bottle maker Sidel SA by Swedish Tetra Laval, the world's largest packaging firm.

 

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.