Companies make no concessions for EC approval

– U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. are believed not to have offered to sell any of their activities in Europe in order to secure a fast approval of their multibillion dollar merger deal by the European Commission, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

A deadline for such concessions expired on Wednesday. If concessions were offered then the Commission, the European Union’s competition watchdog, would have delayed its initial ruling for two weeks.

But in the absence of any offers the E.U. regulator will decide whether to open an in-depth probe of the planned deal or to clear it at the end of January.

Some observers were expecting the companies to offer divestments in the markets for servers and disk storage, where their combined strength is greatest in Europe.

One of the sources said the computer companies’ decision not to offer concessions could either indicate that they are confident the deal will be approved in Brussels, or it could show that they expect a full-blown, four-month probe and have chosen to save any concessions for later in the negotiations with the E.U. regulator.

HP announced its intention to buy Compaq in September 2001, in an all-stock purchase valued at the time at about US$25 billion.

HP, in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-857-1501 or

Compaq, in Houston, can be reached at +1-281-370-0670 or