Euro warning on Airtours deal by van Miert

THE BID battle for First Choice Holidays flared up again yesterday as Karel van Miert, the European Union Competition Commissioner, indicated that a deal with Airtours could lead to "collective dominance" after a day which saw First Choice and Airtours issue rival statements.

First Choice warned shareholders that there is "a very material risk" that Airtours would be prohibited from re-bidding for First Choice by the European Commission and again recommended its chosen merger with Kuoni.

But Airtours expressed surprise that First Choice felt able to predict the results of the Commission's inquiry as the outcome is not expected until October.

Mr Van Miert yesterday commented on the EU's investigation into the First Choice/Airtours bid, saying: "It might be about collective dominance - that a few companies could control charter activities."

First Choice shares closed down 0.5p at 190p, while Airtours gained 2.5p to 508.5p.