UPS sues EU after botched veto of TNT bid

By BLOOMBERG

BRUSSELS • United Parcel Service Inc (UPS) is suing the European Union (EU) for €1.7 billion (RM8.2 billion) in compensation for the damage it said it suffered when regulators wrongly vetoed its attempted takeover of parcel delivery rival TNT Express NV.

UPS is asking the EU’s General Court to award it compensation plus interest and taxes it would pay on any windfall payment, according at a court filing published yesterday.

The same court threw out a 2013 veto because merger watchdogs had failed to inform the Atlanta-based logistics giant when they changed an economic model used to weigh evidence.

The company wants to “be put in the position it would have been in had the unlawful decision not been adopted”, it said in the filing.

Blocking the deal prevented UPS “from materialising the benefits associated with that proposed transaction”.

The EU has become one of the toughest regulatory hurdles for big takeovers, squeezing hefty concessions from global companies to allay concerns over how a deal might hurt competition in Europe. Firms are increasingly calling on the EU courts to check the commission’s powers, fighting its decisions to open probes, what it focuses on in a merger review and how it agrees on concessions with companies.

“The compensation being sought corresponds to what we believe, through objective assessments verified by expert third parties, to be the value of the opportunity wrongly prohibited by the European Commission,” UPS said in a statement.

The commission said it would defend itself in court. It is appealing the court ruling that overruled its decision to block the deal.

Despite the claim for compensation, the separate legal battle over the review of the UPS-TNT deal is rumbling on.

EU regulators have taken their fight against the court ruling to the EU’s highest tribunal, protesting that the judgment gives them less leeway in the crucial last weeks before a deadline to decide whether deals are approved or fall by the wayside.