European Commission to Appeal Tetra Laval/Sidel Merger Ruling
Byline: Patrick Blum in Brussels
The European Commission will appeal against a ruling by the European Court of First Instance that overturned its veto of a takeover bid by Tetra Laval, the paper packaging firm, for Sidel, a French plastic bottling company.The ruling was the third this year in which the Court of First Instance overturned a commission merger veto. It was a severe blow to the competition authority and increased pressure for radical reform of merger controls.
The commission will appeal to the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court. It said in a statement: "The commission considers that the Court of First Instance judgment raises problems of legal principle concerning several aspects of the work of the commission in the field of merger control."
The commission said the ruling raised several issues touching on the EU's merger regulation, the nature of commitments that may be asked to clear a merger, and what can be considered as appropriate proof and evidence which the commission must produce when it bans a merger.
"The Court of Frist Instance has imposed a disproportionate standard of proof for merger prohibition decisions. As a result, it has upset the balance between the interests of the merging parties and the protection of consumers," the commission said.
The Court of Frist Instance had "exceeded its role, which is to review the administrative decision of the commission for clear errors of fact or reasoning, and not to substitute its view of the case for that of the commission". …