8 June 2007
First Choice travel merger through in Phase I
The European Commission has cleared in Phase I the merger between travel and tourism service providers TUI and First Choice. Despite the fact that the Commission infamously blocked the "4 to 3" tie-up between Airtours and First Choice in 2000, it cleared the current deal without conditions in the UK, though it represented a reduction in the number of major UK tour operators from 3 to 2 following recent approval for the Thomas Cook/MyTravel transaction. This change in approach was in part due to the need to heed the CFI's criticisms of the original Airtours/First Choice decision and in part due to the market changes that have arisen over the last 5 years.RBB advised the parties alongside O'Melveney and Myers and Herbert Smith, counsel to TUI and First Choice respectively.