Pushing people around is the flavour of the month right now. Indeed, both companies and regulators seem to be going in for it.
Take the music industry, for instance. The US entertainment giant AEG has just bought up the rights for the Wembley Arena, previously owned by that other humungous US impresario, Live Nation. AEG already operates three major entertainment venues in London: the O2 Arena, the Hammersmith Apollo and IndigO2. It’s also recently been awarded a five-year contract to put on summer concerts at Hyde Park.
Happily, the UK regulatory authorities are looking into the deal, with the Competition Commission due to report by 5 September. However, whatever the Commission finally de [...]
In the UK competition world, it’s been the season for the god of quirks and small things. This has been a lot of fun. However, sadly we’re soon going to have to sober up and look at what lies beneath.
But first let’s look at the quirks and small things. Towards the end of last year, the Office of Fair Trading accepted undertakings from a company called Boparan to sell a Christmas pudding manufacturing business to meet competition concerns stemming from its proposed acquisition of a rival. As a result, the deal won’t be referred up to the Competition Commission.
The UK Christmas pudding market is worth between £40m to £50m a year and the OFT was worried that the loss of competition [...]
Right now, the leitmotif in the competition world is the anger of the ordinary citizen. You thought this was an arena dominated by sober minded analysts, regulators and business executives? Think again.
Take, for instance, the investigation into Britain’s retail road fuel industry – worth about £32bn – currently being conducted by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading. Average pump prices for both petrol and diesel are seriously higher than inflation. They are also out of kilter with the underlying rises in oil prices and the wholesale cost of fuel.
The OFT is now looking at how oil companies and filling stations (especially those owned by supermarkets) set their prices. It’s planning t [...]
Sometimes it’s hard for regulators to see the world beyond the protective bubble in which they spend so much of their working lives. Professional preoccupations can easily blind them to the real concerns – or lack of them – of people living outside the bubble. Often this visual disability is accompanied by a strange failure to measure time like the rest of the world: what is warp speed to a regulator so often looks like tortoise pace to everyone else.
Take the heavily publicised row over the Microsoft browser choice screen, for instance. Only last month, the European Commission announced a new investigation into whether the US computer giant has broken its 2009 promise to offer its cus [...]
In the run-up to the London Olympics, it seems particularly appropriate that the competition theme of the moment is all about fighting.
Take Spain, for instance. The country’s antitrust authority – the Comisión Nacional de la Competencia (CNC) – has recently started legal proceedings against a bunch of matadors and a sports marketing rights consultancy called All Sports Media 66 SL (ASM). The row is over a set of agreements for the joint management of TV broadcasting rights for bullfights.
Earlier this month, the CNC’s investigation division started proceedings against ASM and 10 matadors for breach of the Spanish Competititon Act. At the heart of the row are contracts between ASM a [...]
The bigger they are, the harder they fall and the sounds of the crash get louder as the legal controls get weaker.
Take, for instance, the recent £807.2m sale of Edinburgh airport to Global Infrastructure Partners. This is the latest disposal following the original recommendation by the UK Competition Commission (CC) that BAA’s airport operating empire should be broken up. Before approving the Edinburgh deal, the CC reviewed potential buyers to ensure that they met its criteria on things such as expertise, financial resources and independence from BAA. The CC will now consult on draft undertakings provided by GIP that prevent any resale of the airport within five years unless the new purc [...]