Antitrust Chief Ponders New Limits on Big Companies

Gilo urges unprecedented restrictions due to political pressure exercised by companies.

Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo on Tuesday suggested that the Knesset Finance Committee explore the idea of putting limits on the size of companies operating in multiple industries by setting a ceiling on how much of the country's gross domestic product they can account for.

Gilo urged the unprecedented restrictions on the grounds that companies that are too big exercise excessive political power. In that vein, he also suggested that lawmakers look into rules barring such companies from investing in media companies.

"If the finance committee fears that the size of a firm by itself enhances its ability to exercise political pressure, it should consider a law prohibiting any firm from obtaining too high a share of a certain market or holding critical infrastructure," Gilo said.

Responding to a question from MK Merav Michaeli (Labor), he said: "We need to consider legislation that would limit, for instance, a company in multiple industries from controlling a certain percentage of GDP or a ban on cross-holdings between media and other businesses."

Gilo noted that the government's business concentration committee never addressed these kinds of issues. "What I have thrown out are ideas and not recommendations," he stressed. "Someone needs perhaps to do the work of investigating these questions more deeply."

Gilo also took issue with "revolving doors" between government and business, where senior officials in the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Israel, regulatory agencies and other bodies that supervise business accept senior positions in the private sector after a cooling-off period.

Ofer Vaknin