Ending a drawn-out regulatory review, the European Union (EU) Commission approved French small electrical appliance maker SEB SA's purchase of parts of Moulinex SA.
In January 2002, the EU gave approval while requiring SEB to grant third-party licenses to the Moulinex brand for 5 years in nine of the 15 EU countries. SEB also promised not to use the Moulinex brand for another 3 years after those licenses expired.
EU regulators also referred review of the competition effects on the French market to French authorities, who subsequently cleared the deal.
SEB proceeded to grant Moulinex licenses to Italy's Saeco International Group for eight EU countries and to Greece’s Benrubi in its home market. These licenses do not apply in Spain, Finland, Italy, Ireland, and the UK.
However, rivals Royal Philips Electronics NV and France’s Babyliss still appealed to the European Court of First Instance. In April 2003, the Court annulled the decision in those five EU countries, where no licenses had been granted.
Shortly after, SEB refiled its application to the EU for antitrust approval. In May, the Commission opened an in-depth, 4-month probe into the deal’s impact in the five European countries. It suspended its probe in July to seek further information and had set Nov. 25 as its deadline for reaching a final decision.
The regulators concluded SEB "will neither hold nor strengthen a dominant position on any of the relevant market." (Dow Jones)
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