ZWeR 2007, 482

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 1611-1982 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2007 AufsätzeMelanie Ariane Schwaderer*

Conglomerate Merger Analysis – the Legal Context: How the European Courts' Standard of Proof put an end to the Ex Ante Assessment of Leveraging

A Critique on the Commission's Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines

The present article traces the developments in conglomerate merger analysis – from the European Commission's famous GE/Honeywell Prohibition over the fierce US critique and the European Courts' judgements in GE v. Commission and Tetra Laval to the European Commission's recently published Guidelines on Non-Horizontal Mergers: How to prohibit a conglomerate merger based on leveraging concerns has been discussed in all of these contexts. The article will put the focus on the standard of proof as in this legal concept conglomerate merger analysis finds its limits.

Contents

  • I. Introduction
  • II. The Conglomerate concerns in the GE/Honeywell Prohibition
    • 1. The point at issue: Leveraging
    • 2. Conclusion: Mixed bundling as main concern
  • III. The US criticism – why it could not impact on the Commission's practice
    • 1. The three strands of the US criticism
    • 2. Conclusion
  • IV.  The European Courts' contribution to the future assessment of conglomerate mergers: Setting the standard of proof
    • 1. Two interrelated concepts: Standard of proof and standard of judicial review
    •  2. The standard of proof for conglomerate mergers
    • ZWeR 2007, 483
    •  3. The evidentiary requirements for leveraging
    •  4. Evaluation of the requirements
    •  5. Conclusion: High evidentiary hurdles
  • V.  The consequence of the high evidentiary hurdles: The end of ex ante assessment of leveraging – a reply to Drauz and König's interpretation
    • 1. The CFI's intent: Guidance to further intervention?
    •  2. The relation to Art. 82 EC
    •  3. Conclusion: Enforcement in conglomerate mergers is dead
  • VI. Missing the point: the Commission's Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines
    • 1. No word on the standard of proof
    •  2. The problem of focusing on foreclosure theories
    •  3. Conclusion
  • VII. What then? Possible suggestions for improving the Commission's approach
    • 1. The “German suggestion'': A more structural approach?
    • 2. Move to Art. 82 EC – the inevitable step
  • VIII. Concluding thoughts
*
*)
LL.M. (London School of Economics and Political Science), Research Assistant at the Institute for German and European Business, Competition and Regulation Law (Professor Säcker, Freie Universität Berlin). I thank Katharina Apel, L.L.M. (Harvard), for her helpful insights into Statistics as a method of illustration.

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