Petition to reopen and modify final order: The Commission has received a petition from Aventis S.A. (Aventis), the successor company to Hoechst AG and Rhone-Poulenc S.A. (RP), to reopen and modify a final consent order regarding the 1999 merger of the two companies. Under the terms of the Commission order, which became final on January 20, 2000, Aventis was required to reduce to five percent its "holdings in Rhodia," a French-based chemical company in which RP held a 67 percent share at the time of the merger. The respondents were given approximately five years to complete their sale of Rhodia shares.
Through its petition, Aventis has requested that the Commission reopen and modify the 2000 final order to allow it to enter into certain financial arrangements to divest its Rhodia holdings in the time required by the order and without causing undue injury to Rhodia, its shareholders, and the market. This would be accomplished through the sale of its remaining holdings through private sales of blocks of stock to financial or strategic investors. Specifically, Aventis would like the FTC to add the following language into Section 6, Paragraph IV of the Order, following the time-period requirements for the divestiture: "...provided, however, that for the purposes of this Paragraph IV.D. only, the April 16, 2003 agreement between Respondents and Credit Lyonnais or any substantially similar financial agreements that relate to Rhodia's share performance, between Respondents and the purchaser(s) of Respondents' Rhodia voting securities, shall not be considered Respondents' 'holdings in Rhodia.'"
The Commission is accepting public comments on the petition until November 3, 2003, after which it will decide whether to approve it. Comments should be sent to: FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. (Docket No. C-3919; staff contact is Jeffery Dahnke, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2111; see press releases dated December 7, 1999; and August 17, August 25, September 28, and November 7, 2001, September 20 and December 3, 2002.)
Release of Commission report: The Commission has approved the release of the FTC's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2003-2008, as required under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and through guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget. Every three years, each government agency is required to prepare and submit an updated strategic plan regarding its program activities that covers at least the following five years. The FTC's last updated strategic plan was prepared in FY 2000. The Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2003-2008 first presents an overview of the FTC's history and current activities, future goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures for the next five years. It then details how the Commission will implement the plan in the areas of consumer protection and maintaining competition on an objective-by-objective basis. Finally, it includes a summary of the laws enforced by the Commission and an overview of the key components of the FTC.
The Commission vote to approve and issue the plan was 5-0. It is available on the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/opp/gpra/index.htm. FTC File No. P961201, staff contact is James D. Baker, Assistant Chief Financial Officer for Budget, 202-326-3168.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.