Of all mergers that have been assessed by EU antitrust regulators, 99.6 percent have been approved. One that wasn't may cost the Commission dearly — to the tune of just under €2 billion.
United Parcel Service (UPS), the world's largest package delivery company, has sued the European Commission and is seeking €1.742 billion ($2.15 billion) in damages over its blocked 2013 bid for Dutch rival TNT, now known as PostNL.
The US company filed the case with the European general court — a constituent court of the European Court of Justice — in December, with the action announced on Monday.
The legal action was expected after UPS appealed the original 2013 European Commission decision and won when that decision was overturned by a March 2017 ruling of the European general court, which found fault with the manner in which the original decision was reached.
A UPS spokesperson said the company was aiming to recover €1.742 billion "compensation for the losses suffered as a result of the acquisition being unfairly prohibited by the European Commission."
A European Commission spokesperson confirmed that the Commission would defend itself in court.
"The Commission's 2013 decision "is tainted with serious breaches of rules of law," UPS said. "The applicant claims these breaches in turn caused the applicant's loss because had they not taken place, UPS would have acquired TNT."
Not trusting the antitrust
Five years ago, EU antitrust regulators blocked UPS's attempted €5.2 billion takeover of the Dutch company, saying at the time that UPS had not done enough to assuage fears that the deal would hurt consumers.
The Dutch company was subsequently bought three years later, in January 2016, for €4.4 billion by UPS' arch rivals FedEx, a deal that was given full EU approval.
The decision by the Commission to reject the UPS-TNT deal was unusual in that just 0.4 percent of all mergers that have been notified to the Commission in the last 28 years have been rejected.
aos/hg (Reuters, AFP)