The European Commission has fined Electrabel, an electricity producer, EUR20 million for acquiring control of Compagnie Nationale du Rhone (CNR) without having received prior approval from the Commission under Article 14(2) of the EC Merger Regulation.

The Commission approved the acquisition under the Merger Regulation on 29 April 2008, but left open the issue of the precise date on which Electrabel acquired control of CNR. It then conducted a separate investigation into this issue and found that Electrabel had already acquired de facto sole control of CNR in December 2003 (i.e., nearly five years before the notification). The Commission therefore concluded that Electrabel was in breach of the obligation in Article 4(1) of the Merger Regulation to notify a concentration prior to its implementation.

The high value of the fine sends a clear signal that the Commission will not tolerate breaches of the EU merger notification system.