UK: Who's messing with my merger?

UK: Who's messing with my merger? - Companies grudgingly accept the need for the OFT and MMC to regulate competition. Their main gripe is that, in the end, it all comes down to a political lottery.

by Steve Bevan.

Companies grudgingly accept the need for the OFT and MMC to regulate competition. Their main gripe is that, in the end, it all comes down to a political lottery.

Large or small, bids and mergers have one thing in common - the likelihood of a brush with Britain's competition regulators. For smaller companies without battalions of legal advisers, it can be a daunting prospect. But even for large companies, the UK's system of regulating competition can sometimes seem something of a lottery with the final decision on whether to pass or block a bid or merger very often down to a politician - the president of the board of trade, currently Margaret Beckett. Since her appointment in May, Beckett has confounded expectations on a number of deals - referring some for further investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) which were thought likely to escape, like the Pacificorp bid for Energy Group, blocking others such as the £200 million Carlsberg Tetley/Bass deal, and refusing to take a decision on another, the P&O/Stena merger, until the European Commission has reached its conclusion on the deal.

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