Carl Zeiss's acquisition of Bio-Rad referred to UK Competition Commission, CC invites evidence

January 5, 2004

London, 30 December 2003

The OFT today referred the proposed acquisition by Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH of the microscopy business of Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc to the Competition Commission (CC).

The OFT has referred the merger because it believes that if it went ahead it might be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of single and multi-photon confocal laser scanning microscopes in the UK.

Given the OFT's view that this merger may give rise to a significant prospect of a substantial lessening of competition there was no need for the OFT to assess it further in relation to the interpretation of the test for reference given by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in its recent judgment in IBA Health Ltd v OFT [2003] CAT .

Vincent Smith, Director of Competition Enforcement at OFT, said: 'Carl Zeiss and Bio-Rad are two of the three principal suppliers of single and multi-photon microscopes in the UK and worldwide. Concerns arise from the reduction in head to head competition and the effect on the incentives of the remaining players to innovate. Further investigation by the CC is required to assess these issues.'

The CC is required to publish its report by 14 June 2004.

NOTES

1. The Enterprise Act 2002 empowers the Office of Fair Trading to refer to the CC actual or proposed mergers for investigation and report which create or enhance a 25 per cent share of supply in the UK (or a substantial part thereof) or which involve the acquisition of turnover in the UK of over £70m.

2. The CC may extend the 24 week period within which it is required to publish its report by no more than eight weeks if it considers that there are special reasons why the report cannot be published within that period.

3. In a press release dated 5 December 2003 (PN 164/03) following the CAT's judgment in IBA Health Ltd v Office of Fair Trading, the OFT stated that in relation to current and future cases it would apply the CAT's interpretation of the statutory test for reference. On 11 December 2003, the OFT announced its intention to appeal the CAT's judgment, and on 19 December 2003 the OFT received leave to appeal the CAT's judgment in this case

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Competition Commission invites evidence (Press Release 56-03)

The OFT has today asked the Competition Commission (CC) to look into the proposed acquisition by Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH of Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc.

The CC has been asked to consider whether the proposed acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services namely, the supply of advanced 3D Microscopes (which here includes single-photon and multi-photon microscopes) in the United Kingdom. The CC is required to publish its report by 14 June 2004.

The CC would like to hear from all interested parties, in writing, by 22 January 2004. To submit evidence, please write to:
Inquiry Secretary (ZEISS/ BIO-RAD)
Competition Commission
New Court
48 Carey Street
LONDON WC2A 2JT
Or email: mary.peretz@competition-commission.gsi.gov.uk

Notes for Editors

1. The Enterprise Act 2002 empowers the OFT to refer to the CC completed or proposed mergers for investigation and report which create or enhance a 25 per cent share of supply in the UK (or a substantial part thereof) or where the UK turnover associated with the enterprise being acquired is over £70 million (see OFT Press Release PN 174/03, above).

2. The CC has a 24-week period in which it is required to publish its report, which may be extended by no more than eight weeks if it considers that there are special reasons why the report cannot be published within that period.

3. Further information can be obtained from the CC's web site at: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk

4. Enquiries should be directed to Francis Royle, Press Officer, tel: 020 71 0242.

Office of Fair Trading, PN 174/03
Item source: http://www.oft.gov.uk/News/Press+release s/2003/PN+174-03.htm
Item source: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk /press_rel/latest/2003/dec/html/56-03.ht m

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