July 25, 2018 / 10:53 AM / 10 months ago

Court adviser recommends ruling against EU veto of UPS, TNT merger

BRUSSELS, July 25 (Reuters) - An advisor to Europe’s top court recommended on Wednesday that judges should rule against the EU’s veto of United Parcel Service’s takeover bid for Dutch peer TNT five years ago, in line with a ruling by a lower tribunal last year.

“The Court of Justice should confirm that the Commission’s decision prohibiting the acquisition of TNT Express by UPS should be annulled due to a procedural error,” Juliane Kokott, advocate general at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice at the European Union (ECJ) said in an opinion.

“As the General Court correctly held, the Commission infringed UPS’s rights of defence by making material changes to the econometric model on which it relied during the administrative procedure without informing UPS or giving the undertaking an opportunity to submit observations,” she said.

UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company, last year won a court challenge against the European Commission’s rejection of its 5.2-billion-euro ($6.1 billion) bid for TNT, which was later acquired by Fedex.

The General Court, Europe’s second-highest, said the EU competition enforcer had wrongly blocked the deal and it annulled the decision on a procedural irregularity. The Commission subsequently appealed to the ECJ. ($1 = 0.8548 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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