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CCI takes pity on Thomas Cook, Sterling Holiday Resorts; penalises with Rs 1 crore

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined British travel major Thomas Cook and Sterling Holiday Resorts a “nominal” Rs 1 crore, for failing to notify the CCI before Thomas Cook acquired shares in Sterling.

The CCI stated in its 21 May order, which was published on the CCI’s website today:

“In the instant case, the Parties consummated the Market Purchases between 10th and 12th February 2014 and same was disclosed in the notice filed on 14th February 2014. Though the parties have made full disclosure of all the transactions and there was no effort on their part to conceal information, the Commission discovered the violation of the provisions of the Act only from the notice given by the Parties. These facts go to suggest that the conduct of the Parties was not such that attracts severe penalty. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission considers it appropriate to impose a relatively nominal penalty on the Parties.”

The CCI has approved the Rs 870 crore merger of Sterling with Thomas Cook in March, as reported by Money Control. The Commission dealt with parts of the merger as a “composite combination” and observed that composite notices were needed to be filed with it. The parties argued that the CCI’s combination regulations did not regulate “composite combinations” and “even assuming for the sake of argument” if they did, the particular acquisition of shares was not a composite combination.

Legally India could not confirm the advisors to Thomas Cook and Sterling Holiday Resorts at the time of going to press, though AZB & Partners as well as Trilegal have advised Thomas Cook on corporate work in the past.

In the same week as this order, the commission had also fined Trilegal’s client – Anglo-global supermarket retail behemoth Tesco – Rs 3 crore for delay in filing notice seeking the CCI’s approval for its joint venture (JV) with Trent, as reported by Legally India.

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