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prudential concern. The dispute between the Commission and the Portuguese authorities went on till November 1999, when BSCH notified the Commission its intention to acquire Banco Totta & Acored and Credito Predial Portogues, two commercial banks belonging to the Champalimaud Group. The new operation cancelled the previous proposal, and it was approved by both the Commission and the Portuguese Government without conditions.

Two other important examples of the attempt of Member States to hinder the process of European integration under the provision of art. 21(3) were the planned takeovers of the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) and Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta (Antonveneta) by the Spanish Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and the Dutch ABN AMRO, respectively, in 2005. Both takeovers were approved by the Commission under the simplified procedure in April 2005. As normal praxis, they were also notified to the Bank of Italy for supervisory approval. The supervisory process, however, did not run smoothly. Shortly after the approval by the Commission, both BBVA and ABN AMRO complained that the Bank of Italy was creating obstacles to their respective bids in infringement of art. 21 of the EC Merger Regulation. ABN AMRO argued that the Bank of Italy favored the counter-bid by the Italian bank BPI, thus applying discriminatory treatment toward foreign acquirers; whereas BBVA claimed that the Bank of Italy had conditioned the approval of the bid upon the acquisition of more than 50% shares in BNL. The Commission intervened at first only in favor of BBVA indicating to the Bank of Italy that it was operating in violation of art. 21(4) of EC merger regulation. The Bank of Italy removed the condition imposed on the approval of the bid, but BBVA abandoned the bid given its limited success after the offering period.

Differently, the battle between ABN AMRO and BPI became much more complex. ABN AMRO lodged complaints for violations of national law before the Italian Stock Market Authority, Consob, the Bank of Italy and national courts. This helped revive the case and bring it back to the attention of the Italian government and other competent authorities. The Commission also intervened with the Commissioner McCreevy sending a formal letter to Mr. Fazio threatening to sue Italy. The turning point came in July 2005 when the


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