Competition: Court of Justice of European Union dismisses appeal against refusal of interim measures relating to inspections in the oil, biofuel and bioethanol markets

On 17 September 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") made an order dismissing an application by Alcogroup SA ("Alcogroup") and Alcodis SA ("Alcodis") for interim measures in their appeal against the General Court ("GC") order which dismissed a request for interim measures relating to the Commission's inspections in the oil, biofuel and bioethanol markets. The applicants claimed that the GC erred in its assessments of admissibility at first instance and also in its findings that interim measures were not warranted in relation to the Commission's contested decisions.

The CJEU concluded firstly that the GC had not erred in finding that the Commission's first contested decision related to the Commission ordering the applicants to submit to an inspection. That decision had already been fully implemented. The fact that the inspection had already been carried out means that there is no benefit to be had from ordering the suspension of the decision. The CJEU concluded secondly that the GC had been right to dismiss as inadmissible the applicant's request for interim measures relating to the Commission's second contested decision, which referred to the refusal to suspend the investigation relating to the applicants, in that this decision was a negative administrative decision. Suspension of a negative administrative decision is impossible, because suspension cannot have the effect of changing the position of the applicant. Consequently, the CJEU dismissed the appeal in its entirety. Source: Case C-386/15 P(R), Alcogroup SA and Alcodis SA v European Commission, Order of 17 September 2015

Competition (Finland): Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority investigates the road freight insurance market 

On 13 October 2015, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority ("FCCA") announced it is investigating the truck freight insurance market, after detecting strong increases in cost in recent years. The inquiry will focus on the demand and supply of insurance, together with trading patterns. The FCCA has commissioned a market research company, Taloustutkimus, to send surveys to around 4,000 freight transport companies as part of the inquiry. Source: Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority Press Release 13/10/2015

Merger control: Commission approves unconditionally the acquisition of Altera by Intel

On 14 October 2015, the Commission approved unconditionally the acquisition of Altera by Intel. Both parties are US based suppliers of electronic components, but they supply different types of semiconductors. Semiconductors are electronic components that can be found in virtually every electronic device today. The end-products that contain semiconductors range from base stations, mobile phones, computers, domestic appliances and cars, to medical equipment, identification systems, large-scale industry electronics and aerospace equipment. Altera designs and supplies semiconductors known as programmable logic devices (“PLDs”). This product category includes both field programmable gate arrays (“FPGAs”) and complex programmable logic devices (“CPLDs”). Intel designs, manufactures and supplies semiconductors known as microprocessors or central processing units ("CPUs"). The FPGAs produced by Altera can be used to accelerate certain repetitive computing functions of the CPUs produced by Intel such as the running of search algorithms (so-called "workload acceleration"). In addition, Intel offers so-called contract manufacturing services to other suppliers of semiconductors. These contracts are entered into between Intel and semiconductor suppliers that do not own manufacturing facilities.

The Commission's investigation focused on several semiconductor markets, where the activities of the companies are linked and in particular the vertical relationship between Intel's contract manufacturing services and Altera's activities in the supply of FPGAs and CPLDs. The Commission also investigated the potential anti-competitive effects arising from the strong position of Intel in the market for CPUs, in closely related markets. The investigation showed that Intel has a very limited position in the market for contract manufacturing services and that Altera's demand for such services is of limited importance as compared to the overall market demand. Moreover, several competitors are active at both upstream and downstream level. The investigation showed also that Intel could not prevent other CPU or FPGA suppliers from competing in the market, since Altera's competitors have a number of ways to connect their FPGAs to Intel CPUs and will not have to rely on Intel's technology to do so. Also, CPU suppliers competing with Intel would have a number of alternative FPGA suppliers after the takeover, such as Xilinx, Lattice Semiconductors and Achronix. Therefore, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, and consequently approved the transaction unconditionally. Source: Commission Press Release 14/10/2015

Merger control (Sweden): Swedish Competition Authority opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Powerpipe by Logstor

On 13 October 2015, the Swedish Competition Authority ("SCA") announced that it has opened an in-depth investigation of the acquisition of Powerpipe AB ("Powerpipe") by Logstor A/S ("Logstor"). Both parties are manufacturers of pre-insulated pipes used for heating. According to the SCA, further investigation and analysis is needed to determine whether the merger would affect competition. The SCA has up to three months, until 13 January 2016 to investigate the transaction and to make a decision to allow the transaction or to apply to the Stockholm District Court to request a prohibition.Source: Swedish Competition Authority Press Release 13/10/2015

 In addition, kindly note the following merger control decisions by the Commission which are published on the website of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition:

  • Commission approves acquisition of Veritas by The Carlyle Group
  • Commission approves acquisition of First Eagle by Blackstone and Corsair Capital
  • Commission approves acquisition of GE's European vehicle fleet leasing business by BNP Paribas
  • Commission approves acquisition of VTTI by Vitol
  • Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Koninklijke Ten Cate by equity funds Gilde Fund IV and Parcom Fund IV
  • Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Data 4 Group by Colony and AXA
  • Commission approves acquisition of SoftwareONE by KKR
  • Commission approves acquisition of PartnerRe by Exor