Luxembourg, AFP: The European Commission was wrong to stop US shipping giant UPS from buying its rival TNT Express, the EU’s highest court ruled on Wednesday.
The European Court of Justice “confirms that the commission’s decision prohibiting the acquisition of TNT Express by UPS must be annulled due to procedural irregularity,” the court said in a statement.
The commission, the European Union’s powerful anti-trust regulator, in 2013 blocked the 5.0 billion euro ($5.3 billion) merger plan. Wednesday’s ruling is small consolation for UPS, as TNT went on to be bought out by US shipping giant FedEx in a tie-up that was approved by Brussels.
“UPS is pleased that the European Court of Justice has agreed that UPS was not given a fair hearing,” said Gregg Svingen, global director of public relations at UPS.
“The judgment in UPS’s favour makes a number of points preserving a competitive environment in Europe by clarifying the procedure and relevant criteria for merger approval,” he added.
The commission said it was reviewing the decision and did not respond to a request for comment.
UPS in 2017 claimed 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in damages from the commission after a lower court annulled the veto.
The firm insisted that the demand corresponded to “objective assessments” of the opportunity wrongly blocked by the EU.
Merger vetoes are rare by Brussels and TNT Express immediately announced in 2013 that it would shed 4,000 jobs after the failure of the UPS takeover.