Mergers, acquisitions and many joint ventures between companies doing business in Europe may need to be notified to – and approved by – the European Commission or one or more national competition authorities in Europe before they may be implemented. Over the years, the EU has established a reputation for being perhaps the world’s most important merger control regime. In several cases, the Commission has prohibited transactions or required significant commitments in exchange for approval, despite the transaction being unconditionally approved in other jurisdictions, such as the United States.
Since the first Merger Regulation was adopted in 1990, merger control has been one of the firm’s core areas of expertise. Van Bael & Bellis has been involved in a number of the most important EU merger cases, representing both merging parties and interested third parties (including complainants) in proceedings involving threshold issues of jurisdictional, procedural and substantive law.
For example, the firm has successfully represented Boeing in highly contentious cases, including its acquisition of McDonnell Douglas and its purchase of Hughes’ world-leading satellite business. The firm also advised in the merger creating the world’s largest paper company, Stora Enso. The firm has represented a wide range of multinational clients, including Hitachi, Michelin, Mitsui, Motorola and many others, in notifying major transactions to the European Commission. The firm also represented the five largest Japanese steel manufacturers in opposing the planned acquisition by mining giant BHP Billiton of rival Rio Tinto. After receiving a Statement of Objections from the European Commission, BHP Billiton abandoned the transaction.
Van Bael & Bellis’ expertise in merger control extends well beyond Brussels. Benefiting from its multinational composition, the firm regularly represents clients in proceedings before the merger control authorities of EU Member States. The firm also frequently acts as global coordinating counsel with respect to multi-jurisdictional merger control filings and clearance.