Competition: Commission opens in-depth investigation into acquisition of controlling stake in De Vijver Media by Liberty Global

The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of joint control over De Vijver Media by Liberty Global, Corelio and Waterman & Waterman, is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Liberty Global is the controlling shareholder of Telenet, which operates a cable network in Flanders and parts of Brussels and a number of Pay-TV channels under the brands ‘Sporting Telenet’ and ‘PRIME’. De Vijver Media owns the Dutch-language TV channels ‘Vier’ and ‘Vijf, produces TV content and sells advertising space on several TV channels. According to the Commission, the proposed transaction will create a close relationship between the largest TV retailer in Flanders, Liberty-controlled Telenet, and two of the region's most popular free-to-air TV channels, Vier and Vijf. The Commission has therefore concerns that Telenet's actual or potential competitors for selling TV services to consumers in Flanders could be shut out from accessing these channels. Moreover, following the acquisition, competing TV channels may find it more difficult to obtain access to Telenet's cable platform and/or that access conditions for these channels might significantly worsen. The Commission will now investigate the proposed transaction in-depth in order to determine whether or not these initial concerns are confirmed. It has until 5 February 2015 to take a final decision. Source:Commission Press Release 22/09/2014

Public procurement: Court of Justice of the European Union rules on whether subcontractors can be required to pay minimum wages fixed in the context of the award of public contracts

On 18 September 2014, the Court of Justice of European Union (“CJEU”) handed down its ruling on a reference from a German Public Procurement Board on whether national law can require that subcontractors based in another Member State pay a minimum wage to their workers. According to a law of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, certain public service contracts may be awarded only to undertakings which, at the time of the submission of the tender, have agreed to pay their staff a minimum hourly wage of €8.62 for the performance of the service. The city of Dortmund required that the successful tenderer guarantee a minimum wage even for workers employed by a subcontractor established in Poland and who would carry out the work exclusively in that State. In its judgement, the CJEU concluded that, in a situation at hand, the legislation which requires the subcontractor established in another Member State to pay a minimum wage to workers is capable of constituting a restriction of the freedom to provide services as such requirement has no connection with the cost of living in that Member State. Such legislation may, in principle, be justified by the objective of protecting employees but in so far as the legislation applies solely to public contracts, it is not appropriate for achieving that objective if there is no information to suggest that employees working in the private sector are not in need of the same wage protection as those working in the context of public contracts. Hence, the CJEU concluded that national legislation went beyond what is necessary to ensure that the objective of employee protection is attained by preventing subcontractors established in another Member State from deriving a competitive advantage from the differences between the rates of pay.Source: Court of Justice of European Union Press Release 18/09/2014

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:

  • La Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune par S.A.E.M.E. et ID Logistics
  • Commission approves acquisition of ADVO by MVD and Postcon
  • Commission approves acquisition of WILD companies by the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company
  • Commission approves joint venture between KKR and Riverstone in US energy sector
  • Commission approves acquisition of Lindorff Group by Nordic Capital
  • Commission approves acquisition of KS Aluminium-Technologie by KSPG and HASCO
  • La Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune par S.A.E.M.E. et ID Logistics