On 21 April 2015, the Commission confirmed that on 24 March 2015, Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of companies within bioethanol and biofuel sectors. The Commission revealed that the unannounced inspections in the biofuel sector where done in Spain at a company active in the production, distribution and trading of ethanol. The Commission had concerns that price benchmarks may have been distorted through anti-competitive behavior. The inspections related to the bioethanol market should according to the Commission clarify the facts concerning possible agreements or concerted practices aimed at fixing prices or sharing markets and customers.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step to investigations into suspected anti-competitive practices. An inspection does not mean the targeted company is guilty of anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The Commission emphasized that it respects the rights of defense, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings. Source: Commission Press Release 21/4/2015 and Commission Press Release 21/4/2015
On 20 April 2015, the Swedish Competition Authority ("SCA") announced that it had updated its guidelines on notification and examination of concentrations between undertakings. The additions to the guidelines include information on the SCA's possibility to temporarily suspend the time limit for the SCA's investigation in phase 1 or 2, in case a party to the concentration has not complied with an obligation imposed by the SCA, such as an obligation to provide certain information or documents necessary for the SCA's examination ("stop the clock") and the SCA's procedures for providing parties with access to sensitive information via so-called data rooms. The updated guidelines also provide information about when the SCA may require notification of a concentration as well as the SCA's view on the stand-still obligation. Source: Swedish Competition Authority Press Release 20/4/2015
On 21 April 2015, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority ("FFCA") announced that it has approved the acquisition of Animagi Oy by private equity group EQT. Animagi Oy is an animal veterinary clinic -chain that has 37 offices in Finland. Univet Oy, a subsidiary to EQT, has 18 animal veterinary clinics in Finland. The companies had overlapping functions especially regarding small animal veterinary services. The FCCA stated that there are 200 animal veterinary clinics or offices in Finland and concluded that the acquisition would not raise competition concerns, even though the new concentration would have high regional market shares in parts of Finland. Source: Finnish Competition Authority press release 21/04/2015
On 20 April 2015, the Commission announced that it has approved the proposed acquisition of PT Portugal by Altice, subject to conditions. PT Portugal is a telecommunications and multimedia operator offering fixed, mobile voice and data services, broadband internet access services and pay TV services to residential customers across all telecommunications segments in Portugal. Altice, also of Portugal, operates through the subsidiaries Cabovisão and ONI. Cabovisão provides pay TV, fixed internet access and fixed telephone services, while ONI offers IT services and fixed telecommunication services like voice, data and internet access services to business customers.
The Commission had preliminary concerns that the transaction could have reduced competition in telecommunications markets in Portugal, i.e., the markets for leased lines and for call transit services, the provision of fixed voice services, fixed internet access services and pay TV services to residential customers and the provision of telecommunication services to business customers. According to the Commission, the transaction would have removed a strong competitor from the markets and the new entity would therefore have faced insufficient competitive constraint from the remaining competitors. To address the Commission’s concerns, Altice offered to sell its Portuguese subsidiaries Cabovisão and ONI. This divestment would completely remove the overlap in Portugal between Altice and PT Portugal. Consequently, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would not raise competition concerns. The Commission also announced that Portugal had requested a referral to the Portuguese Competition Authority for assessment under Portuguese law. However, the Commission rejected the request because the relevant markets constituted substantial parts of the internal market. Source: Commission Press Release 20/4/2015
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 joint control over F2i Aeroporti by ARDIAN and F2i SGR in airport sector
- Commission approves proposed decentralized energy management joint venture between MVV, BayWa, GlenDimplex and GreenCom
- Commission approves acquisition of PT Portugal by Altice, subject to conditions
- Commission approves acquisition of Catlin by XL Group
- Commission approves acquisition of US replacement tire distributor ATD by investment firms Ares Management and TPG