General Electric has been defending its proposed $41 billion merger with Honeywell in hearings at the European Commission in Brussels on 29/30 May.

The deal has been given the go-ahead by the USA conditional on minor concessions in its helicopter engine businesses, leaving European approval as the last hurdle.

Thales, Rockwell Collins, Rolls-Royce, United Technologies and Lufthansa were among those giving presentations to the EC.

The prime battleground for GE and the EC centres on European concerns over the possible anti-competitive impact of bundling products by the merged companies. Overlap in the regional engines market is also an issue.

'Bundling' refers to a wide-ranging package of services which diversified companies can offer. The EC fears a combined GE-Honeywell would offer 'bundles' of aerospace goods and services, including financing, which could squeeze out potential competitors.

Prior to the hearings EC sources indicated that GE could find it "difficult to find ways to remedy the bundling issues identified by the EC. GE believes it could be settled by behavioural arrangements, for example by pricing each element in a package separately, and have been trying to win the support of their customers for this approach. This will not eliminate our worries as an overall framework remains in place."

Brussels will rule on the merger by 12 July.

Source: Flight International