BRUSSELS Jan 26 EU competition regulators
blocked on Wednesday the proposed merger of Aegean Airlines
(AGNr.AT) and Olympic [OLY.UL] because the combined Greek
carriers would have a quasi-monopoly in the domestic market.
It was the first merger prohibition by the European
Commission since June 2007, when it blocked the attempt by Irish
low-cost carrier Ryanair (RYA.I) to acquire Aer Lingus AERL.I.
Aegean and Olympic had not offered sufficient remedies to
ease competition concerns, the EU watchdog said in a statement,
confirming a Reuters report on Jan. 20. [ID:nLDE6730ZC]
"The merger between Aegean and Olympic would have led to a
quasi-monopoly in Greece and thus to higher prices and lower
quality of service for Greeks and tourists travelling between
Athens and the islands," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin
He said the remedies offered by the carriers would not have
protected travellers adequately.
Aegean tried to buy Olympic in March 2009 but the Greek
government picked buyout firm Marfin Investment Group (MRFr.AT)
despite its lower bid, because of fears an Aegean bid would face
An Olympic/Aegean merger would create a dominant carrier in
Greece's domestic market, with a fleet of 64 aircraft and a
workforce of 5,850 employees.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)