The BKartA has cleared a merger between two press distributors,
Roth+Horsch Pressevertrieb GmbH & Co. KG, Weiterstadt
("Roth+Horsch") and Presse Vertrieb Pfalz GmbH & Co.
KG, Frankenthal ("PV Pfalz"). Both parties are
wholesalers of press products (including magazines, newspapers,
etc.) and are responsible for their distribution in the areas of
southern Hesse, Palatinate and in northern
In 2004, all independent wholesalers in the Pressegrosso system
(i.e. those not connected to a publisher) and various press trade
associations in Germany voluntarily signed a "unified
declaration of intent". The main aim of the declaration
is to ensure freedom of the press in the retail industry. To this
end, the signatories are committed to ensure that a competitive
range of press products remains available throughout Germany, that
neutrality in relation to publishing houses is maintained and that
all newspapers and magazines can come to market.
In the present case, the purchaser Roth+Horsch is an independent
press wholesaler, not connected to any publishing house in Germany,
whereas 80% of PV Pfalz was owned by 10 large publishing houses
prior to the transaction (including Axel Springer, Bauer, Gruner +
Jahr, Burda and WAZ-Mediagroup). Following the transaction, the 10
publishing houses retain a minority interest in the merged entity
(known as "Frankenthaler Pressevertrieb"). The trade
association representing the independent press wholesalers in
Germany ("Bundesverband Presse-Grosso") feared that the
publishing houses' minority interest in the merged entity could
harm the neutrality and independence of the Pressegrosso
However, the BKartA cleared the merger because in its view the
merger will not change the situation on the regional market of the
individual press wholesalers and the merged entity will be obliged
to act independently of all publishing houses.
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In this section, we give a factual overview of a significant case development at EU level, and then provide a more detailed analysis of the important substantive and procedural developments addressed in this case.
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