The anti-trust attack on IBM Europe initiated by three leasing companies – Atlantic Computers Plc, Econocom NV and IBL Plc, now part of the Meridian International Ltd arm of Inspectorate International AG has ended not with a bang but with the merest hint of a whimper – and it complete victory for IBM. The three initially proceeded against IBM in West Germany, where the Cartel Office began an investigation of their allegations that IBM used its financial muscle to manipulate the computer leasing market unfairly, but abandoned it. The circus then moved to Holland, where IBM was victorious in the Dutch courts, but the three also lodged a complaint with the European Commission’s Competition Policy directorate general. Atlantic and Econocom withdrew their complaint to the Commission after the Dutch court ruling, and it now turns out that Meridian wqithdrew IBL’s complaint earlier this year. The Commission completed its own investigation and abandoned the case last month, notifying IBM of the decision. News that the thing was over only came out because the Wall Street Journal/Europe inquired about it – neither IBM nor the Commission made a formal announcement that the probe was over. We are pleased that the Commission has confirmed our view that the allegations of illegal behaviour were unfounded, says IBM Europe. It supports our position as did the Dutch summary proceeding that the company competes fairly in the Netherlands as it does elsewhere. Our Dutch leasing operations have been in full compliance with applicable EEC law, the statement concludes.
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