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For Those of You Who Think The U.S. Gov't Intervenes a Lot in Business, The EU Is Way More Hands-on


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Although its leaders disagree over how best to solve its economic crises, the European Union is actually pretty unified when it comes to protecting its brand.

Indeed, whether it's getting directly involved in corporate takeovers, buyouts, mergers, bankruptcies, etc., the European Commission has a really remarkable hands-on approach to how business is conducted among its 27-members.

Take, for instance, United Parcel Service Inc.’s recent decision to bail on its proposed $6.9 billion takeover of the Netherlands TNT Express NV: UPS claims European Commission regulators “demanded too many concessions for the deal to remain viable,” the Associated Press reports.

“The Commission, the executive arm of the 27 EU countries, reviews major corporate mergers and acquisitions to ensure they do not hurt fair competition in the market,” the report adds. “It has the power to block deals or to demand concessions, such as the sale of business parts.”

That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we say UPS’ situation isn’t a first. Here are some similar examples of the Commission's direct involvement in EU-related business deals.


GE Beats Estimates as Energy Sales Buoy Industrial Division. (Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).

The Commission blocked General Electric Co. from buying another U.S.-based multinational, Honeywell International Inc.



The Commission demanded that Sony Corp. sell its Japanese music unit as a condition of the merger of its music business with that of Bertelsmann AG. The deal created Sony BMG.


etga.sk & corporate.aerlingus.com

The Commission blocked Irish budget airline Ryanair from buying smaller national carrier Aer Lingus.



The Commission allowed the carve-up of ABN Amro NV -- the largest takeover in banking history -- by a consortium led by RBS PLC and including Belgium's Fortis SA and Spain's Santander, with Bank of America as a side-player. The deal turned out to be a disaster for all the acquiring banks when the financial crisis struck just months later.


ewb.org.au & openmarkets.in

Mining giant BHP Billiton PLC abandoned an attempted takeover of rival Rio Tinto PLC after the Commission raised concerns it would hurt competitiveness in Europe.



The Commission blocked a merger between Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext, saying it would have led to a near-monopoly in European financial derivatives.



The Commission approved Universal Music Group's takeover of EMI Music, on condition that Universal, the largest global music company, sell about a third of EMI's assets.


review-360.com & metals.about.com

The Commission approved the merger between commodities trader Glencore and Xstrata, a major mining group, but only on the condition that it sell its stake in Nyrstar NV of Belgium, the world's largest zinc producer.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The AP contributed to this report. Featured image courtesy Getty Images.

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