Legal dispute between rewe and edeka: fight against supermarket merger

Rewe is taking legal action against the planned takeover of Kaiser’s Tengelmann by Edeka. Gabriel’s ministerial permission granted was previously heavily criticized.

Rewe does not want to accept the decision of Federal Minister of Economics Sigmar Gabriel Photo: dpa

Cologne-based retail group Rewe is trying to torpedo Edeka’s takeover of supermarket chain Kaiser’s Tengelmann with a complaint. The Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf confirmed on Monday that it had received an application to that effect. In addition, Rewe has applied for an "order of suspensive effect" of the appeal, it said.

If Rewe is successful in this, the merger approved by German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) may not be implemented for the time being, the court said. Gabriel’s decision had overruled the Cartel Office’s no vote, triggering fierce criticism.

According to the court, a statement of grounds for the complaint and the application, which were received last Friday, is not yet available. However, a decision on the further course of the proceedings cannot be made until the documents have been received. A Rewe spokesman announced on inquiry a brisk submission of the still missing documents. However, he did not want to comment on further details for the time being.

Rewe CEO Alain Caparros had accused Gabriel of simply brushing aside the concerns of the Cartel Office and the Monopolies Commission against the merger. He had completely disregarded the available alternatives. However, Gabriel had already shown himself little impressed by the threat of legal action. The Minister had said that he assumed "that we will win them". The Rewe arguments had been weighed up, but in the end had not convinced him.

16,000 jobs in seven years

After months of wrangling, Gabriel gave the green light for the controversial merger on Thursday. In return, Edeka must guarantee the preservation of nearly 16,000 jobs at Kaiser’s Tengelmann for at least seven years. Despite the strict conditions, the ministerial approval had caused outrage among opponents of the deal. The head of the Monopolies Commission, Daniel Zimmer, resigned in protest against the exceptional approval.

With his special approval, Gabriel had undermined a ban by the Federal Cartel Office. The competition authorities feared that the merger could further restrict competition in the German food trade. Gabriel, on the other hand, had stressed that in his view the protection of jobs at Kaiser’s Tengelmann was more important than the concerns of the Cartel Office.

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