Airtours' shares soar as bid escapes referral back to UK
Thursday 27 May 1999
Kim Howells, the competition minister, said he had decided not to ask the European Commission to refer the deal back to the UK for a Competition Commission inquiry.
Shares in both companies soared by up to 20 per cent on the news, which analysts said had removed a major hurdle to Airtours winning control of its target.
The news came just a day after Karel van Miert, EU Competition Commissioner, gave a strong hint that he would refer the case back to the UK if the Government asked him to do so.
The deal fell into Brussels' jurisdiction because of the size of the business outside the UK that the merged group would have.
Mr Van Miert told reporters on Tuesday there "could be a demand" from the UK to take the case back.
But Mr Howells said yesterday that he had decided not to put in a request, following the advice of John Bridgeman, the Director General of Fair Trading.
Mr van Miert will announce next month whether he has cleared the deal or has decided to launch an in-depth investigation that could take up to four months.
First Choice said: "The result of the Commission's phase one review is still to be announced and thus the outcome of the regulatory process remains unclear." If the UK had asked for jurisdiction, analysts said it would probably have led to a referral to the Competition Commission.
The combined group would own 34 per cent of the UK package travel industry - above the 25 per cent needed to trigger an inquiry - and just ahead of Thomson with 28 per cent, effectively creating a duopoly.
There is understood to be anger over the confusion caused by Mr van Miert's reported comments. Shares in First Choice slid 7 per cent and Airtours' by 1.5 per cent on Tuesday.
First Choice had agreed a pounds 1.4bn merger deal with Kuoni of Switzerland a month before Airtours launched its bid.
Airtours' bid is backed by 51 per cent of First Choice shares.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...