Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Business: The Company File
EC rejects Airtours takeover
The EC did not want three companies to dominate the tour market
The European Commission has blocked Airtours' acquisition of First Choice Holidays, saying it would have left the UK holiday market in the control of only three large firms.
The commission's decision was in line with expectations.
A merger between the two would have created the UK's largest holiday group.
The decision was only the 11th time that the commission has blocked a takeover or merger deal outright since it was given sole authority to authorise large deals in the EU 10 years ago.
The announcement follows last-ditch attempts by Airtours to patch together a deal which would have been palatable to the Commission.
Airtours submitted a formal proposal to the EC offering to sell off some businesses and/or brands to allow the creation of a fourth UK tour operator.
The Commission acknowledged that Airtours had submitted a revised deal, but it decided there were no "exceptional circumstances" to justify considering the new proposals after the expiry of the deadline.
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