EU Competition

EU – Phase I merger notifications published in the Official Journal

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Commission closes cartel investigation into cereals The European Commission (“Commission”) has dropped its cartel investigation into cereal traders. One of the companies under investigation, Bunge Ltd, has confirmed in a recent SEC filing that in December 2009 it received notification from the Commission that it had decided to close the investigation. In July 2008, the Commission conducted a number of dawn raids, initiating an investigation into a possible breach of Article 101 TFEU.

Commission consults on ENI commitments The Commission has published a notice inviting comments on commitments offered by ENI pursuant to Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. The commitments are intended to address the Commission’s concerns that certain practices of ENI in its management and operation of its natural gas transmission pipelines may have infringed Article 102 TFEU. ENI has offered to divest its gas transmission system businesses in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The divestment will include both the operators of the pipelines and the transmission system operators.

UK Competition

Procter & Gamble/Sara Lee: OFT considers Article 22 reference The OFT has announced that it is considering whether to make a request under Article 22 of the EU Merger Regulation for the anticipated acquisition by Procter & Gamble of the air care business of Sara Lee Corporation to be referred to the Commission. The OFT is considering whether, even though the merger does not have a Community dimension, it qualifies for an Article 22 reference on the basis that it may affect trade between Member States and may threaten to significantly affect competition within the territory of the UK. Apart from the UK, the transaction was also notified for merger clearance in Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Cyprus.

State Aid

Slovak aid to farmers The Commission has authorised a Slovak scheme with a budget of approximately €3.32 million which aims at supporting farmers in Slovakia who encounter difficulties as a result of the current economic crisis. Aid under this scheme can be granted until 31 December 2010 and will take the form of a direct grant. This scheme is a further application of the Commission’s Temporary framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis. Click here for more information.