Competition Authority: We couldn't allow Express Post, Eesti Post merger

Several Estonian newspapers. Photo is illustrative.
Several Estonian newspapers. Photo is illustrative. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

According to the Competition Authority, they had done the right thing in previously rejecting merger proposals between the privately-owned periodical delivery company Express Post and the Estonian state-owned universal postal service provider Eesti Post.

Competition Authority Director General Evelin Pärn-Lee said on Friday that it's impossible to assess whether the result of a merger between Eesti Post and Express Post would have been the same, just faster and more painless.

"It has in no way been either demonstrated or analyzed that this result would have been the same or better," Pärn-Lee said.

She noted that, had the authority permitted the merger, not everyone may have been spared from being laid off anyway.

On Friday morning, Express Post announced that it would be cutting its periodical delivery business — which involved home deliveries of Ekspress Grupp and Postimees Grupp newspapers in and around major cities — and laying off 450 employees this year.

"It's speculative to lump these circumstances together, all the moreso as this result or activity on the business' part may have come about even if this merger had taken place," the director general said.

She also added that the Competition Authority cannot authorize mergers that would lead to a monopoly being established anyway.

"The Competition Authority prohibits a merger if it could harm the market," Pärn-Lee explained. "And it harms the market if we previously had two providers on the market, for example, and a clearly monopolistic situation arises as a result of a merger."

Eesti Post, which operates under the Omniva brand, intends to fill the vacuum and launch early-morning periodical deliveries as well as higher two thirds of those laid off by Express Post.

The two companies had previously repeatedly sought merger authorization from the Competition Authority, most recently last fall.

Nonetheless, there is nothing the Competition Authority can do if one company independently decides to cease operations, leaving market monopoly in its wake, she continued.

"The market creates business opportunities, and if a market is somehow reshaped by business opportunities or consumer or supplier activity, then that is typical economic activity," Pärn-Lee said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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