EU Mergers

Phase I Mergers

  • M.8004 AKZO NOBEL / BASF INDUSTRIAL COATINGS BUSINESS (28 October 2016)
  • M.8016 SANOFI PASTEUR / VACCINES OF SANOFI PASTEUR MSD (28 October 2016)
  • M.8055  COHERENT / ROFIN-SINAR TECHNOLOGIES (26 October 2016)
  • M.8136  BASF / CHEMETALL (28 October 2016)
  • M.8162 DAIMLER / ATHLON CAR LEASE INTERNATIONAL (24 October 2016)
  • M.8164  STEINHOFF INTERNATIONAL / PIKOLIN / COFEL (21 October 2016)
  • M.8184 CVC / CPPIB / PETCO (21 October 2016)
  • M.8187 AXCEL IV / PFA / PKA / DSF (26 October 2016)
  • M.8198 ALLIANCE AUTOMOTIVE GROUP / FPS DISTRIBUTION (28 October 2016)
  • M.8201 RANDSTAD HOLDING / MONSTER WORLDWIDE (26 October 2016)
  • M.8210 HNA AVIATION / SR TECHNICS (24 October 2016)
  • M.8215 JAC / NEXPERIA (19 October 2016)
  • M.8219 CD&R / DRIVE DEVILBISS HEALTHCARE (28 October 2016)

EU Competition 

Commission releases 2017 Work Programme. On 25 October 2016, the European Commission (Commission) published its work programme for 2017, setting out “concrete proposals for the year ahead”. The Commission publishes a work programme each year setting out the coming year’s “key initiatives”. The Commission has listed ten priorities for 2017, which will be implemented and achieved through 21 new initiatives. The Commission’s priorities are to boost jobs, growth and investment; carry out a mid-term review of the Digital Single Market and implement the Energy Union Strategy with work on low-emission vehicles and mobility; build a deeper and fairer internal market by implementing the Single Market Strategy, Space Strategy for Europe and Capital Markets Union Action Plan and making proposals for Fairer taxation of companies. The Commission also plans to present ideas for the reform of the EU and the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union, and to propose a European Pillar of Social Rights; implement the Trade for All Strategy and pursue trade negotiations with international partners, while strengthening trade defence instruments; continue to pursue a Security Union to fight terrorism and align the rules on the protection of personal data and privacy; deliver on the European Agenda on Migration; strengthen Europe's role as a global actor; adopt an EU Strategy for Syria and implement the EU Global Strategy and Africa-EU Partnership; as well as step up efforts to enforce EU law (including enhancing the antitrust tools available to national authorities) and update / repeal existing legislation. 

Trade

CETA signed in 16th Commission-Canada summit. On 30 October 2016, the Commission and Canada signed the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) in Brussels, during the 16th Commission – Canada summit. CETA removes 99% of tariffs in trade and EU and Canadian officials hope it will generate an increase in trade worth $12 billion a year. Car manufacturers and the EU textile sector are an example of beneficiaries of CETA, for which currently, Canadian duties of up to 18 percent are imposed. Service companies could also benefit and EU companies would be able to tender for public contracts at Canadian provincial and municipal level; this is the first time Canada has offered this. Canadian farmers would also be able to send larger quotas of their products to the EU market, and EU dairy producers would be able to export more than double the current amount of "high quality" cheeses to Canada. The Joint Declaration issued by Canada and the Commission described CETA as the “most comprehensive, ambitious and progressive trade agreement ever negotiated by either Canada or the European Union and will open a new dimension to our economic partnership”. The signing ceremony initially planned for Thursday had been cancelled after Belgium's Wallonia region vetoed the agreement. Wallonia had voiced concerns over the controversial investor state dispute settlement system (ISDS), which allows corporations to sue European governments over their policies. This is a standard feature of Canadian trade agreements with other nations. Upon agreeing on certain compromises in an addendum to CETA, such as the fact that any actions of this kind will have to be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and concessions which addressed concerns about competition for Wallonia’s farmers from Canada, Wallonia approved CETA on Friday. Assuming the Commission gives its assent, CETA could come into force partially early next year. However, full implementation, which would include ISDS, will ensue only after clearance by national and regional parliaments.

State Aid

Commission clears German aid to stabilise electricity network. On 24 October 2016 the Commission approved Germany’s involvement in reducing the electricity consumption of large consumers, as part of a measure to stabilise the electricity network. The measure, Verordnung zu abschaltbaren Lasten (AbLaV), involves network operators encouraging electricity users to reduce their consumption in exchange for a fee. Network operators participate in weekly competitive auctions to determine the fee paid to customers. The Commission found that “AbLaV will improve the short-term reliability and long-term security of supply of the electricity network in Germany in line with EU state aid rules, in particular its 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy.” 

Commission approves German aid to cogenerated electricity and opens investigation.On 24 October 2016 the Commission announced its approval for German support to cogenerated electricity, finding that it can “make an important contribution to EU energy and climate goals”.  German support will be given to the construction and expansion of energy-efficient district heating/cooling networks (i.e. pipelines often built in towns, which allow the transfer of heat/cooling to end users) as well as the construction and retrofitting of heating/cooling storage facilities. The Commission noted that such support improves the integration of cogeneration into the electricity market and that the support was in line with its 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy. The Commission’s investigation has also prompted a further investigation to "examine in more detail the impact on competition of reductions for certain users from the surcharge that finances the scheme". 

ECJ dismisses appeal by Orange against General Court ruling. On 26 October 2016 the ECJ dismissed an appeal brought by Orange (formerly known as France Télécom) thus upholding the General Court’s judgment that the Commission was correct in approving a French State aid scheme for the financing of retirement pensions of public sector employees working for France Télécom. At the time of France Télécom’s 1996 listing on the stock exchange, due to a concurrent change in pension laws, the Commission had found that France Télécom had incorrectly paid a smaller employers contribution in order to finance their employee’s pensions. The Commission deemed the smaller contribution owed to France as State aid provided to France Télécom by the French state. France Télécom claimed that the amount should not be considered State aid, arguing “reform of the method of financing in question does not constitute State aid.” The ECJ instead agreed with the General Court in finding that the French reform of such pensions improved the situation of France Télécom and as a result, created a selective advantage. The ECJ noted the measure allowed France Télécom to invest its financial resources on improving its operation on telecommunications markets, and thus “was liable to distort competition” in the market. 

UK Competition

High Court refuses to strike out Samsung antitrust damages claim. On 24 October 2016, the High Court rejected an application by Samsung Electronics to strike out a €159.3 million antitrust damages claim against Samsung Electronics, three of its subsidiaries (Samsung) and LG Display (LG). The damages claim has been brought by iiyama, a manufacturer of monitors, and stems from the 2010 Commission decision which found that Samsung and LG participated in a cartel concerning liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. Iiyama, which uses the LCD panels in its monitors, is seeking antitrust damages of €159.3 million, alleging that the conduct of the cartel led to an increase in the price of LCD panels. Samsung sought to strike out this damages claim on the basis that the infringement also took place in Asia and it would be “puzzling and troubling” to defend lawsuits against a single infringement in two jurisdictions. The High Court rejected Samsung’s application, stating the High Court “can’t see a problem” with the claimant arguing that they’re a “victim of Taiwanese tort under Taiwanese law and also say under EU law that they’re a victim of EU tort”. The High Court noted that iiyama’s claim “may not succeed” however to strike out the lawsuit at this stage would be “unsuitable” as “some issues go into EU law”. The High Court also added that should Samsung wish to appeal their decision, the Court of Appeal would likely “think it’s premature to have these issues at this stage of litigation”.