The Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Danish book publishing company Bonnier Forlagene A/S, belonging to the Swedish media group Bonnier, by Egmont of Denmark, also a media group. The Commission's clearance is conditional upon the commitment by the parties to modify the proposed transaction so that Egmont would not acquire the Danish strip cartoon business of Bonnier. In view of this commitment, the Commission concluded that the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said "In view of the remedies offered, I am satisfied that effective competition will remain after the merger and that Danish readers of strip cartoons will continue to enjoy a wide choice and competitive prices".

Egmont is a media group active in a variety of areas, including book publishing, especially in the Scandinavian region.

The Bonnier group is active in more than twenty countries with a particular focus on Northern Europe. Its Danish subsidiary - Bonnier Forlagene A/S, comprising six publishing houses and a book club chain - is active as a book publisher in Denmark.

The Commission reviewed the competitive effects of the proposed concentration at each level of the economic chain of the book sector in Denmark that is acquisition of publishing rights, distribution of books, sale of books to dealers and sale of books to final consumers. It also looked at each different book category - general literature (hardback and paperback), children's books, factual prose (including reference works), and strip cartoons.

The Commission's market investigation revealed that the proposed operation would significantly reduce competition in the Danish market for the sale of strip cartoon books to dealers, where Bonnier and Egmont are by far the two leading suppliers. Thus, the Commission considered that the proposed transaction, as initially notified, was likely to weaken competition and therefore raised serious doubts as to its compatibility with the Single Market.

With a view to removing these concerns, the parties modified the proposed transaction, so that Egmont would not acquire the Danish strip cartoon business of Bonnier. The parties also agreed to exclude strip cartoons publications from the scope of the sales agreement.

After market testing these commitments, the Commission concluded that they were suitable to solve the competition concerns raised by the transaction. [15 October 07]