Analysis of MOFCOM’s Veto of the Coca-Cola & Huiyuan Deal
In this article Drs. Fei Deng and Gregory K. Leonard, along with Adrian Emch of Hogan Lovells, examine the decision by China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) to block the proposed takeover by The Coca-Cola Company of China Huiyuan Juice Group Limited, which was the first time that MOFCOM prohibited a transaction under China’s new Anti-Monopoly Law.
MOFCOM’s decision in this case appears to have been based on three intermediate propositions: (1) carbonated soft drinks (“CSD”) and juice drinks constitute two separate relevant markets; (2) Coca Cola is dominant in CSD; and (3) post-transaction, Coca-Cola would have the ability to bundle or tie its CSD and juice drink products in a manner that harmed consumers.
The authors analyzed the validity of these propositions, and also discussed non-competition factors that might have played a role in MOFCOM’s decision, including the importance to government of Chinese brand names and input from other government authorities.
This article was published in the April 2009 issue of CPI (Competition Policy International, formerly GCP).