Kinepolis Belgium: Court of Appeal asks Competition Council to reassess the Kinepolis dossier

Regulatory release Kinepolis Group was today informed of the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the decision reached by the Competition Council (April 2007). In April 2007 the Competition Council decided to lift the conditions imposed on Kinepolis in Belgium in 1997. This decision was contested by UGC, Utopolis and FCB, and the Court of Appeal has now ruled that the Competition Council should re-examine the dossier. On 16 April 2007, after months of investigation, the Belgian competition authority, the Competition Council, lifted the conditions that had been imposed on Kinepolis at the time of the merger between the Bert group and the Claeys group in 1997. The conditions were no longer necessary owing to the changed circumstances on the Belgian market. The conditions in question stipulated among other things that for ten years, any significant expansion or takeover would have to be subject to the prior consent of the Competition Council. The Council's approval was not required for limited expansions or the replacement of existing complexes by new complexes. However, in April the international cinema groups UGC and Utopolis, with the support of the Belgian cinema federation, the FCB, lodged an appeal. While awaiting the judgement on the merits, these parties submitted a request for suspension which was granted by the Court on 23 August 2007. The Court of Appeal has now ruled that the Competition Council should re-examine the lifting of the conditions. Kinepolis is confident that the new decision will confirm the Competition Council's most recent ruling, bearing in mind the altered market circumstances, the free choice of Belgian cinema-goers and the economic development of the Belgian cinema sector. While awaiting the new judgement from the Competition Council, Kinepolis Group is taking account of the restrictions imposed when planning its growth strategy, just as it has for the past ten years.