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ip/98/230

Brussels, 10th March 1998

Wolters Kluwer and Reed Elsevier have announced that following the objections of the Commission, they have abandoned their projected merger

On 10/11/1997, Reed Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer notified to the European Commission under the rules established by the EU merger control regulation their intention to merge. On 11/12/1998, the Commission decided to open an in-depth investigation of the merger, given its implications for competition in a number of national markets for professional publishing. The Commission adopted then the preliminary view that the merger between these two leading publishers could create a dominant position in the world-wide market for academic publishing (scientific journals and books), in the markets for publications for professional use in the areas of law and tax in the Netherlands, in the United Kingdom, in France and in Italy, in the market for publications for primary and secondary schools (educational publishing) in the United Kingdom, in a number of markets for business publications in the Netherlands, in the market for Dutch dictionaries and in the European market for the services provided by transport databases. Following an in-depth enquiry of the Commission which confirmed its preliminary view that the proposed merger would result in a significant impediment to competition in those markets and objections raised on competition grounds in a statement to Wolters Kluwer and Reed Elsevier on 20/02/1998, the latter have announced on 09/03/1998 that they had decided to abandon their current project to merge.

Furthermore, the enquiry also led the Commission to consider that the position of the merged entity, several times larger than any other publisher of professional information in the EU, could prevent a competitive situation in the supply of legal, fiscal and scientific information in the EU, with a significant impact on the terms and prices at which this information is made available to user and consumers. The merger as notified, could also affect the development of a competitive environment in the supply of professional information in electronic form. The combination of the parties' financial resources and ownership of copyrighted content across Europe would discourage investments by competitors in this area.

In the normal course of the procedures provided for by the merger regulation, the Commission offered the parties access to its files so the parties could verify the grounds on which the Commission based its objections, and also offered them the possibility to participate on a hearing to present their own point of view to the representatives of the national competition authorities in the EU. A number of third parties had also expressed their interest in expressing their own point of view about the merger


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