EU Mergers

Phase I Mergers

  • M.8182 PAI PARTNERS / RP GROUP (22 September 2016)
  • M.8121 TRITON / FLÄKT WOODS (22 September 2016)

Phase II Mergers


EU Competition 

Commission announces preliminary view that the eligibility rules of the International Skating Union are in breach of EU antitrust rules. On 27 September 2016, the European Commission (Commission) announced that it has sent a statement of objections to the International Skating Union (ISU) about its eligibility criteria pursuant to the formal complaints raised by Dutch athletes, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt. The ice speed skaters are challenging the ISU rules as they impose a  lifetime bans on skaters from competing in events such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships, if skaters take part in competitions not authorised by the ISU. Upon receiving this complaint, the Commission launched a formal investigation into the ISU to examine whether the ISU’s rules operate so as to prohibit “unapproved” companies not linked to the ISU from organizing ice-skating events by making it difficult for the “unapproved company” from attracting top players. The Commission is concerned that these penalties “restrict the commercial freedom of athletes” and “prevent new organizers from entering the market”. 

ECJ dismisses public procurement challenge from European Dynamics. On 15 September 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed a challenge from European Dynamics Luxembourg SA (European Dynamics) to a procurement for the development of software and supply of services undertaken by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). European Dynamics brought this challenge on the basis that they believed the evaluation method used by EIT to assess all the tenders deviated from the rules in Council Regulation 966/2012 on the financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (the Financial Regulation), as well as the guidelines set out in Regulation 1268/2012 (the Implementing Rules), which led to the EIT making manifest errors in their judgment of the tenders. European Dynamics also alleged the EIT used criteria that were not listed in the specification to evaluate the tenders, which, in addition to a non-linear scoring system, contributed to a lack of transparency in the assessment process. The ECJ dismissed these claims, finding that the EIT acted in accordance with the rules in the Financial Regulation and the Implementing Rules. Although European Dynamic’s application was unsuccessful, this judgment made clear the importance of a well-documented evaluation process of tenders and the requirement of a just and transparent procurement process.

State Aid

Commission approves French State guarantee to natural disaster reinsurer Caisse Centrale de Reassurance. On 26 September 2016, the Commission approved the guarantee given by the French State to the reinsurer of natural disasters; Caisse Centrale de Reassurance (CCR). In recognising that the guarantee did not qualify as unlawful State aid, the Commission noted that the guarantee did not necessitate undue governmental influence in the insurance market and that it facilitates each household and business to be eligible in being insured against the hazard of natural disasters. The Commission also found the plans to create a new subsidiary of CCR’s commercial insurance business and its initial grant did not involve State aid, as the terms under which this capital was received is similar to what would be accepted by others acting in the market.

Commission approves Lithuanian support to Science and Technology Parks. On 30 September 2016, the Commission found that the proposed support to science and technology parks (Parks) by the Lithuanian authorities does not constitute as unlawful State aid, as it does not distort competition between providers of capital support to startup small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). The Commission acknowledged the integral role of the Parks providing support to SMEs to aid the SMEs’ initial development. As State aid would be passed from the Parks directly to the SMEs, the Commission noted the Parks themselves were not recipients of the State aid. To ensure this remained the case, the Commission requested that Lithuania warrants all rent-free use of buildings is fully passed on to the SMEs, and should recover any profits that are made by the Parks. The Commission also requested that Lithuania ensure the State aid is kept transparent and all SMEs do not receive more than required for de minimissupport, i.e. no more than EUR200,000 over three years. 

Commission approves Romanian State aid to its regional airports. On 28 September 2016, the Commission approved the State aid given to 11 out of the 13 Romanian airports that were under investigation. The remaining two airports are still being examined. The Commission found that the State aid given to these airports enabled secure connections between regions in Romania and provides European citizens with the ease of transport. The Commission also noted that the State support fell within the provisions of the 2014 Commission Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines, in particular the rules applying to operating aid granted before April 2014.

Greenpeace Energy and German municipal power companies lose appeal over State aid given to Hinkley Point. On 30 September 2016, the lower-tier General Court rejected an appeal by German municipal power companies to overturn the EU’s approval of UK State aid to the nuclear power plant, Hinkley Point. The General Court did not consider each entity to have sufficiently illustrated how they were affected by this £24.5 billion pound investment, and noted the British investment was unlikely to distort competition between other energy providers on the EU market. 

UK Competition

CMA investigates alleged anti-competitive arrangements in the UK cleaning services sector. On 23 September 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announcedthat it is to proceed with further investigating the UK cleaning services sector following allegations of competition law breaches pursuant to Chapter 1 of the Competition Act 1998. The CMA are considering whether the evidence obtained allows them to issue a statement of objections and have estimated that this analysis should be concluded by December 2016.