The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following action.
Applications for approval of transactions: The FTC has received an application for approval of a transaction from the following. The FTC is seeking public comments on the application for 30 days, until Jan. 14, 1997. Staff contact is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526, unless otherwise indicated.
- Rite Aid Corporation, of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, has applied for FTC approval to divest a drug store in Lincoln, Maine, to Hannaford Bros. Co., of Scarborough, Maine. Rite Aid submitted the divestiture application jointly with R. Stephen Thing, a trustee appointed by the FTC to complete divestitures that had not been completed by a deadline set by the FTC in its 1994 consent order in this matter. The consent order settled charges that Rite Aid's aquisition of LaVerdiere Enterprises, Inc. could substantially lessen competition in prescription drugs in Lincoln and Bucksport, Maine, and in Berlin, New Hampshire. The divestitures are intended to restore competition in those markets. (See Dec. 19, 1994 news release for more details regarding the 1994 consent order; Docket No. C 3546.)
Commission action regarding applications for approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has ruled on an application for approval of a transaction from the following:
- The Commission has granted approval to The Vons Companies, Inc., of Arcadia, California, to acquire a supermarket in Grover Beach, California, from Smith's Food & Drug Centers, Inc. Prior approval of the acquisition was required under a 1992 consent order settling charges that Vons' acquisition of San Luis Obispo supermarkets from a competitor, and its sale of an existing supermarket in San Luis Obispo for conversion to a drug store, reduced market capacity and increased Vons' market share, in violation of antitrust laws. The prior approval provision was intended to allow the Commission to review additional transactions that might pose competitive concerns in San Luis Obispo County. The acquisition is also subject to a settlement agreement with the State of California that, among other things, requires Vons to divest a supermarket it currently operates in Pismo Beach, California to Scolari's of California, a California and Nevada based supermarket operator. (See Aug. 13, 1992 and May 29, 1996 news releases for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3391; Commission vote to grant approval for the acquisition was 5-0.)
Petitions to reopen and modify or set aside orders: The FTC has received a petition from the following entity seeking changes in, or termination of, an FTC order. The FTC is seeking public comments on the newly-received petition or 30 days, until Jan. 14, 1997.
- Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Hoechst Corporation, both of Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, a German firm, have petitioned the FTC to reopen and set aside a 1991 consent order, which settled charges that Hoechst's acquisition of Celanese Corp. would substantially reduce competition in the manufacture and sale of acetal, an engineering thermoplastic polymer that replaces metal in small mechanical parts in a variety of products. Hoechst maintains that the order, which imposes restrictions on the activities of Hoechst in connection with an acetal production joint venture in which Celanese was a partner so as to ensure the independence of that joint venture Polyplastics Co., Ltd.), also prevents it from competing against global rivals in the changed acetal market. (See Dec. 6, 1991 news release for more details regarding the 1991 consent order; Docket No. 9216.)
Commission action regarding petitions to reopen and modify FTC orders: Following a comment period, the FTC has ruled on a petition from the following:
- The FTC has granted a petition from The Geon Company, of Avon Lake, Ohio, to reopen and modify a 1989 consent order against The B.F. Goodrich Company, so as to delete a requirement that Goodrich and its successors and assigns obtain Commission approval before acquiring certain vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) assets or businesses. The order settled charges that Goodrich's acquisition of the VCM business of Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company violated antitrust laws. Following divestiture of its Calvert City, Kentucky, VCM plant to Westlake Monomers Corporation pursuant to the order up until 1993, Goodrich conducted its remaining VCM operations through its Geon Vinyl Division. In 1993, Goodrich spun off its remaining VCM business into the now-separate Geon Company, which, by virtue of its acquisition and operation of Goodrich's remaining VCM business, is a successor under the order's prior approval requirement. (See April 26, 1989 news release for more details regarding the 1989 consent order; Docket No. 9159; Commission vote to grant the petition was 5-0.)
Consent agreements given final approval: Following public comment period on each, the Commission has made final consent agreements with the following entities. The Commission action makes the consent orders binding on the respondents.
- The final consent order with NGC Corporation, of Houston, Texas, settles charges that its acquisition of certain natural gas transportation and processing assets from Chevron Corporation would have left only two companies operating four natural gas liquids fractionation plants in Mont Belview, Texas, the nation's hub for such services. The deal also would have extended NGC's control to three of those plants, the FTC had alleged. Under the final consent order, NGC was permitted to own and operate Chevron's fractionation plant, but had to resign as operator of the two plants it operated at the time of the acquisition, and sell its 80 percent interest in another plant to a Commission-approved buyer. (See Aug. 28, 1996 news release for more details regarding this consent order; Commission vote to issue the consent in final form was 5-0; Docket No. C 3697) Staff contact is Phillip L. Broyles 202-326-2805.
- The final consent order with Telebrands Corporation, of Roanoke, irginia, and its owner, Ajit Khubani, settles charges that they made false and usubstantiated claims in advertising two products -- the WhisperXL, a hearing aid, and the Sweda Power Antenna. The consent order prohibits the respondents from making certain false claims about the ability of the WhisperXL to amplify sound and require them to have substantiation for any claims about the performance or effectiveness of any hearing aid. The order also prohibits the respondents from making certain claims about the ability of the Sweda antenna to provide TV reception, and require them to have substantiation for claims that the product can boost a signal before the signal gets to the TV or radio. (See Sept. 19, 1996 news release for more details regarding this consent order; Commission vote to issue it in final form was 5-0; Docket No. C 3699.) Staff contact is Michael Bloom, New York Regional Office, 212-264-1207.
Comments on the application and petition should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the same address; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov