UK banks: Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have announced that they have agreed to sell some of their assets in order to obtain approval from the European Commission in respect of state aid provided by the UK government. Lloyds has said it will dispose of its Cheltenham & Gloucester branches, its Intelligent Finance subsidiary and the TSB brand. RBS will sell its insurance business, which owns the Direct Line, Churchill and Green Flag brands and its interest in the RBS Sempra Commodities business. The Commission was reported to have said that it had made very good progress in its discussions with the UK authorities and expected to adopt a decision on the two banks’ state aid and restructuring scheme in the coming weeks. Click here for more information.
Belgium, France, Luxembourg: The Commission has approved the temporary four month prolongation of the guarantee jointly granted by Belgium, France and Luxembourg on Dexia’s debt. The prolongation is justified by the funding situation of the group and its systemic importance for the economies of the three Member States which is in line with previous practice on such measures and is compatible with Article 87(3)(b) EC Treaty. (which allows aid that is an appropriate, necessary and proportionate means of remedying a serious disturbance in Member States’ economies). Click here for further information.
Hungary: The Commission has opened an in-depth state aid investigation into Hungarian aid for an investment project of Audi Hungaria Motor Kft due to concerns that the market shares of the owner of the car plant in Hungary, Volkswagen-Porsche Group, exceeds the 25% limit set out in the Commission’s Regional Aid Guidelines. Click here for further information.