22 January 2024

COMCO prohibits takeover of Quickmail by Swiss Post

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The planned acquisition of the Quickmail-Group has been prohibited by the regulatory authority. Such prohibition decisions are rare in Switzerland, as the thresholds for intervention in merger control matters are very high.

On January 19, 2024, COMCO announced its decision in an official press release to prohibit the planned acquisition of the Quickmail-Group by the Swiss Post. The reason for this decision was COMCO's concern that the proposed acquisition would significantly impair effective competition in at least one market. COMCO specifically focused on the market for national addressed bulk mailings over 50 grams for business customers and concluded that the acquisition would have granted the Swiss Post a dominant position, that would have resulted in a de facto monopoly.

Swiss Post and Quickmail both argued for a rescue takeover. The approval of the acquisition by WEKO was a possibility if a rescue takeover had been demonstrated. A rescue takeover occurs when an acquisition affects competition, but the adverse effects on competition would occur even without the acquisition (known as the "Failing Company Defense"). This would be the case if the Quickmail-Group were to disappear from the market within a short period without support, leading a significant portion of customers to switch to the Post. Furthermore, there should be no alternative option that promotes competition better.

The COMCO did not endorse the arguments put forth by both the Swiss Post and Quickmail regarding a rescue takeover. In addition to the Post, there was another unnamed prospective buyer with experience in the postal sector. The acquisition by this prospective buyer would have preserved a competitive rival for the Post in the market. Considering this more competition-friendly alternative, the COMCO determined that the conditions for a rescue takeover were not met and, consequently, prohibited the planned acquisition by the Post.

The press release from COMCO can be accessed via the following link: WEKO verbietet Übernahme von Quickmail durch Post (admin.ch)

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