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EU: Antitrust policy gets heat after mergers blocked

 |  February 6, 2019

According to a report from Reuters Siemens and Alstom’s merger collapsed on Wednesday after EU regulators blocked the deal, prompting Germany and France to call for an overhaul of EU competition policy to better meet global challenges.

The European Commission also rejected a bid by German copper company Wieland-Werke AG to buy a business unit from Aurubis, Europe’s biggest copper smelter, similarly arguing the deal could have pushed up prices for consumers.

The two vetoes are likely to spur efforts by France and Germany to loosen EU competition rules so as to take a more global than solely European view of mergers and potentially to allow EU ministers to have a say.

Shortly after the Commission’s announcements, German economy minister Peter Altmaier said Berlin and Paris were working on a proposal to change European competition rules to facilitate large cross-border mergers.

“Protecting customer interests locally must not mean that Europe cannot be on a level playing field with leading nations like China, the United States and others,” Kaeser said in a statement.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager dismissed Siemens and Alstom’s argument about merging to compete with their bigger Chinese state-owned rival CRRC in the European market.

“We don’t see the Chinese coming. The Chinese are nowhere, not at all in Europe,” she told a news conference.

Full Content: Reuters & Europa Press

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