"The Commission's decision raises important issues of principle with regard to parties' obligations under EU merger control rules," said Jörgen Haglind, Tetra Laval's senior vice president for communications.
"Hence, we find it necessary to appeal this decision to the Court of First Instance."
The decision relates to the initial notification of Tetra Laval's acquisition of Sidel,the French manufacturer of machines for producing PET bottles. The acquisition was the subject of two Commission decisions, the detailed scrutiny of the European Court of First Instance and was approved by the EU Commission on 13 January 2003.
The European Commission said that it has fined Tetra Laval for providing what it called incorrect or misleading information relating to the existence of its Tetra Fast technology when it requested regulatory approval for its acquisition of French company Sidel.
The Commission said that it wanted to re-affirm that it is of the utmost importance that merger partners comply with the notification requirements outlined in the so-called form CO and provide full and correct information regarding their respective activities, especially in view of the tight legal deadlines for merger reviews.
"The Tetra Fast technology, which is at the heart of today's decision, is still in its developmentphase and the Commission has shown a manifest misunderstanding of both its features andpotential. We do not believe the Commission has any grounds to impose a fine on Tetra Laval," said Haglind.
Tetra Fast is a project developed by Tetra Pak which attempts to use combustion technology to form PET bottles rather than the traditional compressed air technology. Tetra Fast has yet to prove its commercial viability.
"Throughout the lengthy scrutiny of our acquisition of Sidel, including the procedure after the Court of First Instance had quashed the Commission's original decision, Tetra Laval provided accurate and timely information to the European Commission," claimed Jörgen Haglind.
The new Merger Regulation that came into force on 1 May 2004 foresees that companies can be fined up to 1 per cent of their aggregate turnover for supplying incorrect or misleading information as opposed to a fine of €1,000 to €50,000 under the old regulation which still applies in this case.
Operating activities within Tetra Laval are organised in three autonomous industry groups: Tetra Pak, DeLaval and Sidel. The three industry groups are focused on systems for production and distribution of food.