EU court annuls 2013 Commission decision that blocked UPS takeover of TNT

BRUSSELS, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The European Court of Justice on Wednesday annulled a 2013 European Commission decision that blocked U.S. package delivery company UPS’s planned acquisition of Dutch peer TNT Express, citing a procedural error.

The ruling opens the way for the world’s largest delivery company to sue EU regulators for damages. UPS has said it is seeking 1.74 billion euros ($1.99 billion).

The EU veto paved the way for U.S. rival FedEx Corp to acquire TNT for 4.4 billion euros in 2016 in a deal approved by the Commission.

The Commission had rejected UPS’s planned 5.2 billion euro acquisition of TNT saying UPS had not offered sufficient concessions to allay concerns that the deal would hurt consumers.

The court said the Commission had infringed UPS’s rights of defence by using a different econometric model in its analysis than that used in its exchange of views and arguments with UPS.

Wednesday’s ruling follows that of the General Court of the European Union, the EU’s second highest court, in 2017. The Commission had appealed against that ruling.

$1 = 0.8760 euros Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Jason Neely