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Exceptional Approval of Major Mergers: London and Brussels Compared

Ian Forrester, Stefan Mahoney, May 18, 2009

This note records a short, urgent, highly-publicised attempt by a group of concerned citizens, the Merger Action Group (“MAG”), to challenge a rare governmental decision not to expose a government-favoured merger to the scrutiny of the otherwise applicable competition rules. The initiative was unsuccessful in appealing to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, which found, heavily against the applicants, that there had been no legal impropriety in the changing of the law to facilitate the transaction, or in the actions by the responsible minister when exercising his freshly-minted powers. We contrast the speed, rigour and efficiency which the CAT deployed with the norms prevailing in Brussels.

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