Outlook: French farce at Decaux
Friday 15 May 1998
Come off it Mr Parry, we're not that gullible you know. M. Decaux would never have said those things. You surely didn't expect us to fall for it did you? Certainly he looked the part, with all that gallic waving of the arms, but he gave himself away in what he said.
Mr Parry's bravura performance on the lawn outside Decaux's Plaisir headquarters needs some explaining. Decaux is one of France's leading outdoor advertising companies and it is bidding for its British rival More Group. Mr Parry, who heads More Group, doesn't much like the idea of being taken over by his arch French rival and he's trying to get the takeover referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, only he's not allowed to say that because he's already recommended a lower offer from Clear Channel of the US. Shareholders would get awfully angry if they thought their chief executive was trying to deprive them of a higher offer.
It was thus that a dastardly plan came to be hatched. Mr Parry would get the French to admit publicly that their bid was fundamentally anti- competitive and monopolistic in intention and the Office of Fair Trading would thus be persuaded to refer it. But nobody believed he would go this far. On his way to meet the journalists, M. Decaux was kidnapped and Mr Parry put in his place. Once properly disguised, Mr Parry set to work. It didn't matter if there was less competition in Europe as a result of this bid, he told incredulous hacks. The main thing is to keep the Americans out, because otherwise they'll make things very difficult in the market place for European companies like Decaux.
The real giveaway, however, came when he claimed that a monopoly could be positive for smaller cities and that the problem with politicians was that they were not far sighted enough to realise this. This was surely taking the joke too far. But there was worse. He then went on to say that Decaux could afford to pay so much for More Group because it was "answerable to no one". If that hasn't persuaded the Office of Fair Trading, which yesterday passed its advice on the matter to Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, nothing will. Unless a very narrow definition of what constitutes a competitive market is adopted by officials at the OFT, it still looks, on balance, as if Decaux will escape reference. Mr Parry ought to be congratulated, nonetheless, on a splendid last ditch attempt to change everyone's mind.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 World Cup 2014: 20 things we learned in Brazil
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Pamplona bull run: Man who contributed to a survival guide for the festival falls foul of the raging beasts
Israel-Gaza conflict: William Hague calls for ceasefire but says Israel 'has the right to defend itself'
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
iJobs Money & Business
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...