Tag Archives: Competition-Mergers

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Cristal by Tronox

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy, said: Titanium dioxide is used in everyday products, including paints, plastics and paper, and many different manufacturers need to buy it from a small number of suppliers. We will carefully assess whether the proposed merger between Cristal and Tronox would affect competition in the titanium dioxide market and ultimately lead to higher prices for many everyday products, or less choice for consumers.

Tronox and Cristal are both active in manufacturing titanium dioxide pigment. They also own titanium feedstock facilities, from which they source the raw material for their pigment production. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in numerous products, such as paints, paper and plastics. It is used to add opacity and brightness, and to ensure consistency of colour.

The proposed merger would create the largest supplier of chloride-based titanium dioxide in the European Economic Area (EEA) and globally.

The Commission’s preliminary competition concerns

The Commission’s initial market investigation raised several issues relating in particular to a reduction in the number of suppliers of titanium dioxide pigment produced via the chloride-based process. The market is already concentrated and Tronox and Cristal are close competitors. The Commission is concerned that the transaction could lead to less choice for customers and potentially to higher prices for the products concerned.

Different types of titanium dioxide pigment are suitable for use in different products. For some of them, such as paints for buildings and specific types of plastics and paper, the number of suppliers of titanium dioxide is particularly limited. In some of these markets, the Commission is concerned that the acquisition would reduce the number of effective competitors from four to three.

The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation into the effects of this transaction to further explore its initial concerns.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 15 November 2017. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 15 May 2018, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

Companies and products

Tronox, registered in Australia and headquartered in the US, is active in mining and in the production of minerals and chemicals, including titanium dioxide. It owns mines in Australia and South Africa, and operates production sites in Europe, the US and Australia.

Cristal (The National Titanium Dioxide Company Ltd.) is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and is part of the Tasnee industrial company. Cristal is active in mining and in the production of titanium dioxide and other titanium chemicals. It owns mines in Australia and Brazil, and operates production sites in Europe, the US, China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions that have been referred to it by EU Member States (see Article 4(5) of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

In addition to the current transaction, there are five ongoing Phase II merger investigations: the proposed acquisition of Ilva by ArcelorMittal, the proposed merger of Essilor and Luxottica, the proposed acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer, the proposed creation of a joint venture by Celanese and Blackstone, and the proposed acquisition of NXP by Qualcomm.

More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.8451.

Daily News 27 / 11 / 2017

African Union – European Union Summit to start in Côte d’Ivoire

President Juncker will lead the European Commission delegation at the 5th African Union – European Union Summit starting on 29 November in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The President will be joined by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica. The EU is Africa’s main partner, and the summit will be an opportunity for both sides to scale up their partnership. The African Union (AU) and the EU need to tackle the common challenges of today, from fostering sustainable development and strengthening peace and security to boosting investment in the African continent and better managing migration. Under President Juncker’s leadership, the Commission has added new innovative tools on top of its traditional cooperation instruments, bringing EU cooperation with Africa to a new level. On this occasion, President Juncker said: “What happens in Africa matters for Europe, and what happens in Europe matters for Africa. Our partnership is an investment in our shared future. It is a partnership of equals in which we support each other, help each other to prosper and make the world a safer, more stable and more sustainable place to live.” The summit will be held under the overarching theme of “Youth”, and young people have played a vital role on the run up to the AU-EU Summit, notably through the Youth Summit, which took place in Abidjan on 9-11 October. The participants have developed a Youth Declaration, with concrete recommendations for European and African leaders. A selected group of young fellows have continued to work on these in the EU-funded intercontinental AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative. Tomorrow, on 28 November 2017, ministers of Foreign Affairs from Europe and Africa will gather in Abidjan for a Ministerial meeting. During the AU-EU Summit itself, 29-30 November, leaders will discuss many areas that shape our common agenda: Peace and Security; Migration and Mobility; Connectivity and Job creation. A factsheet is available on the EU’s key partnership with Africa. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Europe and Africa are in business! Investing in opportunities at 6th business forum

Business leaders, investors, innovative startups, young and female entrepreneurs from Africa and Europe are coming together for the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President responsible for the EU’s Digital Single Market, delivered this morning a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Business Forum, which takes place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, ahead of the African Union – European Union Summit (29-30 November). Vice-President Ansip said: “This Business Forum will look at areas where the situation could be improved. Not only how to create the best conditions for long-term private investment, but also how to support jobs for young people – especially women.” At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: “Improving the conditions for investment in Africa is essential to create jobs for Africa’s youth and promote sustainable development. This is a key focus of the AU-EU Summit, where the EU will present its new External Investment Plan. This innovative plan will help to unlock €44 billion of investment for decent jobs and sustainable growth.”High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will give closing remarks at the Business Forum, which will be available on EbS. Vice-President Ansip‘s keynote address is available here as well as via@Ansip_EU. This year Forum is dedicated to “Investing in job creation for Youth” and is centered around youth and women, sustainable investment in Africa, agriculture, sustainable energy and digital economy. The EU-Africa Business Forum contributes to the AU-EU Summit through high level discussions and concrete project proposals with a focus on developing solutions for youth employment and entrepreneurship, innovative financing instruments, public-private dialogue and digital policy development. For example, the Forum hosts a Startup Fair, a pitching session, a high level roundtable on the digital economy, investment workshops and many other activities designed to reinforce the digital links between the EU and Africa. Participants will furthermore develop a declaration with concrete recommendations to leaders on how to improve the business and investment climate. The Forum provides a unique platform for young European and African entrepreneurs and startups to express their vision for the future, to exchange views with mature companies and to interact with government representatives. More information on the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum can be found online atwww.euafrica-businessforum.com. Join the debate on Twitter#EABF2017. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083)

 

Payment services: Consumers to benefit from safer and more innovative electronic payments

The Commission has today adopted rules that will make electronic payments in shops and online safer. This will also allow consumers to access more convenient, cost-effective and innovative solutions offered by payment providers. These rules implement the EU’s recently-revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which aims to modernise Europe’s payment services so as to keep pace with this rapidly evolving market and allow the European e-commerce market to blossom. Today’s rules allow consumers to use innovative services offered by third party providers, also known as FinTech companies, while maintaining rigorous data protection and security for EU consumers and businesses. These include payment solutions and tools for managing one’s personal finances by aggregating information from various accounts. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “We have struck the delicate balance between security and convenience. Thanks to these new rules, there will be exciting new opportunities for all market players, old and new, to offer better consumer services. At the same time, the new rules will make electronic payments safer.” A key objective of PSD2 is to increase the level of security and confidence of electronic payment. In particular, PSD2 requires payment service providers to develop strong customer authentication (SCA). Today’s rules therefore have stringent, built-in security provisions to significantly reduce payment fraud levels and to protect the confidentiality of users’ financial data, especially relevant for online payments. A full press release and MEMO can be found online. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Une compétitivité économique accrue en Pologne grâce à de meilleures connexions de transport financées par l’UE

66,3 millions d’euros du Fonds de Cohésion sont investis dans l’amélioration du réseau ferroviaire au sud de la Silésie, près de la République tchèque, entre les communes de Chybie, Żory et Rybnik et entre Nędza et Turze. Dans cette région polonaise industrielle, notamment autour de la ville de Rybnik, de meilleures connexions permettront de réduire les temps de trajet, tant pour le transport de fret que pour les passagers. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu a commenté: “Ce projet, qui promeut une mobilité propre en Silésie, contribuera directement à la croissance locale, en facilitant le transport des biens.Investir dans de meilleures connexions ferroviaires, c’est investir directement dans l’économie régionale.” Certaines sections du réseau régional font partie du réseau global de transport transeuropéen (RTE-T). L’UE finance la rénovation des voies sur sept sections différentes ainsi que la construction de 30 ponts et viaducs. Le projet devrait être opérationnel d’ici l’été 2019.  (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Commission launches public consultation on a European Labour Authority, as well as a European Social Security Number

Today the European Commission has launched a public consultation to gather views of the broader public on setting up a European Labour Authority and the introduction of a European Social Security Number. Both initiatives were announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address. The European Labour Authority should ensure that EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way. Concretely, building on existing structures, the Authority would support national administrations, businesses, and mobile workers by strengthening cooperation at EU level on matters such as cross-border mobility and social security coordination. It would also improve access to information for public authorities and mobile workers and enhance transparency regarding their rights and obligations. The European Social Security Number (ESSN) aims at simplifying and modernising citizens’ interaction with administrations in a range of policy areas. An EU Social Security Number would facilitate the identification of persons across borders for the purposes of social security coordination and allow the quick and accurate verification of their social security insurance status. It would facilitate administrative procedures for citizens by optimising the use of digital tools. Legislative proposals for both initiatives are announced in the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2018 and planned to be tabled by spring 2018. Find more information on the European Labour Authority in this factsheet and online. The public consultation can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: EU agri-food trade balance has an increasing surplus

The latest monthly trade report published today by the European Commission, shows that the value of EU agri-food exports in September 2017 kept its very high level, now at €11.7 billion. The trade balance further improved to a surplus of €2.8 billion, with agri-food imports to the EU going down to a monthly value of €8.8 billion. Over the past 12 months, wine and milk powders exports have been performing very well, while exports of wheat and other cereals decreased. Agri-food imports from third countries increased by 4% compared to the same period one year ago. Imports from Indonesia increased most significantly. The full report is online.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Spain’s support for coal power plants

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Spain’s “environmental incentive” for coal power plants is in line with EU State aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the support has been used to implement mandatory environmental EU standards as regards sulphur oxide emissions, which applied to coal power plants at the time. If confirmed, this means that the scheme did not actually have any environmental incentive effect. Furthermore, the financial support may breach an established principle of EU State aid rules, namely that Member States may not grant State aid to companies to meet mandatory environmental EU standards. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “If you pollute, you pay – this is a long-standing principle in EU environmental law. EU State aid rules do not allow Member States to relieve companies of this responsibility using taxpayer money. We currently believe that this Spanish scheme did not incentivise coal power plants to reduce harmful sulphur oxide emissions – they were already under an obligation to do so under EU environmental law. Therefore, we are concerned that the support gave these coal power plants an unfair competitive advantage. We will now investigate this issue further.” The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Spain and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and ES. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of EXIM Holding by DER Touristik Deutschland

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over EXIM Holding A.S. of the Czech Republic by DER Touristik Deutschland GmbH of Germany. EXIM is a Czech company with four subsidiaries active in the tourism sector in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. DER Touristik forms part of the Travel &Tourism Division of REWE Group of Germany, which operates in the tourism sector as well as in the food and non-food retail sector via a separate branch. DER Touristik was already jointly controlling EXIM before the transaction. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited changes it brings to the market. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8668. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Mergers: Commission clears a joint-venture between Deutsche Alternative Asset Management and M&G Alternatives Investment Management

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Belmond JV by Deutsche Alternative Asset Management (Global) Limited (“DAAM”) and M&G Alternatives Investment Management Limited (“MAGAIM”), all three of the UK. Belmond JV will be established as a full-function joint venture and will be active in the operational leasing of rolling stock to the West Midlands rail franchise in the UK and, potentially, in associated ancillary capital investments. DAAM is an affiliate of the Deutsche Bank Group of Germany and provides investment management and fund management services. MAGAIM is the investment management division of Prudential Group of the UK in Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited changes it brings to the market. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8667.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Study on digital public services points out room for development in using eIDs and eDocuments

The new 2017 eGovernment Benchmarking report shows that European countries are providing better digital public services, but they still need to improve on their use of supporting technology to boost cross-border accessibility and transparency. The study found that public administrations across 34 countries in Europe score highly (80%) in the provision of readily available, mobile and user friendly online public services. The study also reveals that there is progress in cross-border availability of digital services but suggests that these services could further benefit from increased use of key enablers like eIDs or eDocuments. The report is based on the findings from EU Member States but also from Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey. The study implies that more needs to be done to inform users about issues such as the duration of administrative processes or when personal data is used to complete an administrative task. To address these areas, the development of the proposed Single Digital Gateway regulation will give EU Member States centralised access to people and businesses to information on cross-border rights and procedures. This study confirms once again the need for more action – a point which Member States agreed to tackle in the recently adopted Tallinn declaration on eGovernment which will help to improve better digital public services in the EU. Furthermore, the annex to the Tallinn declaration contains user-centricity principles agreed on by the Member States, which puts citizens and businesses at the centre of digital public services. Further details on the report are available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Andriukaitis to award NGOs for initiatives that promote vaccination

Today Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety,will present the EU Health Award 2017 for NGOs promoting vaccination, at the Health Policy Platform annual meeting in Brussels. To see the results as they happen, tune-in live. In the run-up to the award ceremony, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “Immunising people against diseases caused by viruses or bacteria is one of the most cost-effective public health measures available today. Yet, worryingly, misconceptions and scepticism about the need to vaccinate is growing. The public-facing role of Non-Governmental Organisations is crucial in the effort to ensure high vaccination coverage. Picking the top three initiatives was a challenging task for the jury, and while I will be proud to announce the overall winners, all 10 NGOs on the shortlist should be proud of their contribution to better public health through vaccination.”  For more information:EU Health award for NGOs 2017, EU action on vaccination. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229  91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

Commissioner Andriukaitis on official visit to Veghel, the Netherlands

On 28 November,European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is in Veghel, the Netherlands. He will visit Agrifirm, member of the Dutch association of former foodstuff processors.  Later on Tuesday, he will visit Three Sixty, Ecosystem for circular economy in action, together with Ms Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. The Commissioner will also meet with the Dutch Taskforce Circular Economy in Food. For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

Commissioner Avramopoulos in Lisbon to discuss security on land, at sea and on the internet

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Lisbon on 28 November to meet the directors of the nine EU agencies working on justice and home affairs – Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), eu-LISA, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the European Police College (CEPOL), Eurojust, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). They will discuss their collaboration on migration and security issues with a focus on border management and the fight against organised crime. The meeting is being hosted by the EMCDDA and is part of the ongoing close cooperation between the agencies, formally established in a network since 2006. Commissioner Avramopoulos will also meet the newly-appointed Portuguese Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, and the Director of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, Michael O’Sullivan. In a press conference at 11:45 CET Commissioner Avramopouloswill present a report on drugs and the darknet co-authored by Europol and the EMCDDA, together with the directors of the two agencies, Rob Wainwright and Alexis Goosdeel respectively. The press conference will be available on EbS. (For more information:Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 2 296 74 56, Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

Commissioner Bulc hosts the EU-Turkey High Level Transport Dialogue

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc today received Mr Ahmet Arslan, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication of Turkey, for the EU-Turkey High Level Transport Dialogue. Together, they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest, including the infrastructure connections between the EU and Turkey, road safety and aviation cooperation. They also agreed on a concrete roadmap to pursue and deepen the High-Level dialogue in the future. Commissioner Bulc said, “Transport clearly is an area of common interest for the EU and Turkey. The High-Level dialogue can create a new momentum in our cooperation, and I look forward to continue building on this positive agenda.” Press statements by Commissioner Bulc and Minister Arslan will shortly be available on EBS. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

Commissioner Bulc and EESC President Dassis launch platform for equal opportunities in the transport sector

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will be joined by Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure of Estonia and Karima Delli, Chair of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, for the launch of the EU Platform for Change later today in Brussels. This initiative aims to increase female employment and equal opportunities in the transport sector. The Platform was developed in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee to give transport companies and organisations the possibility to highlight their initiatives for gender equality and to exchange good practices. To show their commitment, organisations dedicated to equal opportunities in transport will sign an official Declaration at the event. The Declaration will also be opened for signature online. Commissioner Bulc said: “Only 22% of transport workers are women. There is a huge potential for the sector to improve equal opportunities and I am excited that companies and organisations agree on this and are committing themselves to the increase of female employment. By engaging women and men together towards gender equality we will ensure that our societies will flourish at all levels.” More information here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

Commissioner Jourová participates in the European Platform for Roma Inclusion on the transition from Education to Employment

Tomorrow and Wednesday, the European Commission is organising the 11th European Platform for Roma Inclusion. On Tuesday morning, Commissioner Jourová will open his edition dedicated to the topic of the transition of young Roma from education to employment, as Roma are still the most underrepresented group on the labour market. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said ahead of the Platform: “Europe cannot afford to let young Roma fail to fulfil their potential. The growing proportion of young Roma not in education, employment or training is worrying. Policy-makers need to look carefully at the causes and address them. Poverty, low levels of education, discrimination in both education and employment constitute serious barriers for Roma to obtain stable jobs.” Over these two days, government representatives, local and regional authorities, civil society organizations, international organizations, and European institutions representatives participants will engage in debates related to the transition of young Roma from education to employment. The outcomes of the discussions will be presented to decision makers, representatives of education, employers, businesses and other stakeholders. More information about the event can be found here. You can follow the event live online here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

Commissioner King to speak at meeting of National Parliaments

Tomorrow Commissioner King will be in Tallinn, Estonia, where he will take part in a meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the EU (COSAC), hosted by the Estonian Council Presidency. Commissioner King will deliver a keynote speech on “State of play – building an effective and sustainable Security Union” during the fourth session of the conference. More information is available on the COSAC website here.(For more information:Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Seeds and pesticide products are essential for farmers and ultimately consumers. We need to ensure effective competition so that farmers can have access to innovative products, better quality and also purchase products at competitive prices. And at the same time maintain an environment where companies can innovate and invest in improved products.”

The proposed acquisition of Monsanto (US) by Bayer (Germany) would create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company. It would combine two competitors with leading portfolios in non-selective herbicides, seeds and traits, and digital agriculture. Both companies are active in developing new products in these areas. Moreover, the transaction would take place in industries that are already globally concentrated, as illustrated by the recent mergers of Dow and Dupont and Syngenta and ChemChina, in which the Commission intervened to protect competition for the benefit of farmers and consumers.

The Commission’s preliminary concerns

The Commission has preliminary concerns that the proposed acquisition could reduce competition in a number of different markets resulting in higher prices, lower quality, less choice and less innovation. In particular, the initial market investigation identified preliminary concerns in the following three areas:

  • Pesticides
    Monsanto’s pesticide product glyphosate is the most sold non-selective herbicide in Europe. Bayer produces glufosinate ammonium, also a non-selective herbicide and one of the very few alternatives to glyphosate. According to the Commission’s preliminary investigation, Monsanto and Bayer are two of a limited number of competitors in this field capable of discovering new active ingredients and developing new formulations, including addressing the growing problem of weed resistance to existing products.
    In addition, the Commission will further assess both Monsanto’s activities in biological pesticide products that would compete with Bayer’s existing portfolio of chemical pesticide products, and the parties’ overlapping activities in products that tackle varroa mites, a parasite affecting bee colonies in Europe. 
  • Seeds
    Bayer and Monsanto are both active in the breeding of vegetable seeds. The Commission’s initial investigation shows that the parties have high combined market shares in a number of these vegetable seeds markets, and that some of their products compete directly with each other.
    Bayer and Monsanto are also active in the breeding and licensing of seeds for several field crops. Monsanto has the highest market share in oilseed rape seeds in Europe. Bayer, with the highest market share in oilseed rape seeds at global level, is one of the few players with the means to compete intensively in this market. Furthermore, both parties are important licensors of cotton seeds to their competitors in Europe, and both are investing in research and innovation programs for wheat. 
  • Traits
    A trait is a characteristic of a plant, such as height, herbicide tolerance and insect or disease resistance, and can be developed in laboratories and introduced in certain plant varieties.
    The Commission’s preliminary investigation indicates that Monsanto has a dominant position in several traits markets worldwide. Bayer is one of the few competitors to Monsanto in certain traits markets, and has notably developed alternative herbicide tolerance traits to Monsanto’s. The Commission will investigate in particular whether the transaction could lead to a reduction of competition in these markets, taking into account the existing links between the few worldwide competitors through cross-licensing and through research and development cooperations.

Finally, the merged entity would hold both the largest portfolio of pesticides products and the strongest global market positions in seeds and traits, making it the largest integrated company in the industry. The Commission will further investigate whether competitors’ access to distributors and farmers could become more difficult if Bayer and Monsanto were to bundle or tie their sales of pesticide products and seeds, notably with the advent of digital agriculture. Digital agriculture consists in the collection of data and information about farms with the aim of providing tailored advice or aggregated data to farmers. Both Bayer and Monsanto are currently investing in this emerging technology.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 30 June 2017. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 8 January 2018, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.

On 31 July 2017, Bayer and Monsanto submitted commitments to address some of the Commission’s preliminary concerns. However, the Commission considered these commitments insufficient to clearly dismiss its serious doubts as to the transaction’s compatibility with the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission therefore did not test them with market participants.

Given the worldwide scope of Bayer and Monsanto’s activities, the Commission is cooperating closely with other competition authorities, notably with the Department of Justice in the US and the antitrust authorities of Australia, Brazil, Canada and South Africa.

Background

Petitions

The Commission has been petitioned through emails, postcards, letters and tweets expressing concerns about the proposed acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer. The Commission’s mandate under the European merger control rules is to assess the merger solely from a competition perspective. This assessment must be impartial and is subject to the scrutiny of the European Courts.

The other concerns raised by the petitioners are subject to European and national rules to protect food safety, consumers, the environment and the climate.

Companies and products

Bayer, headquartered in Germany, is a diversified pharmaceuticals, consumer health, agriculture (Bayer Crop Science) and animal health company. This transaction mainly concerns the Bayer Crop Science division. Bayer Crop Science operates three business segments: (i) Crop Protection; (ii) Seeds and Traits; and (iii) Environmental Science. Bayer is also active in developing digital agriculture technologies.

Monsanto, headquartered in the US, is an agriculture company which produces seeds for broad acre crops, fruits and vegetables as well as plant biotechnology traits. It also provides pesticide products, including the glyphosate herbicide under the “Roundup” brand and other herbicides for agricultural and non-agricultural use. Additionally, Monsanto is involved in research on biological agriculture and provides farmers with digital agriculture services through its ‘Climate Corporation’ business.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

In addition to the current transaction, there are two other on-going phase II merger investigations: the proposed acquisition of NXP by Qualcomm and the proposed acquisition of Haldex by Knorr-Bremse.

More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.8084.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Momondo by Priceline

Priceline operates online travel agents and travel comparison metasearch sites, under several brand names including booking.com, priceline.com, agoda.com, KAYAK Rentalcars.com and Opentable. Momondo Group is primarily active in the operation of metasearch sites, under the brands Cheapflights and Momondo. The Commission assessed the impact of the proposed transaction on markets for the operation of metasearch sites in the European Economic Area (EEA). Metasearch sites, on the one hand allow travellers to search for and compare travel products. On the other, they offer advertising services to online travel agents and travel service providers, such as airlines, hotel operators, and car rental companies. The Commission also examined a number of vertical relationships arising from the merging companies’ activities in the operation of metasearch sites and their activities in operating online travel agents downstream.

The Commission’s investigation found that:

  • The companies’ metasearch activities are largely geographically complementary in the EEA, as Priceline has limited activities in the Nordic countries, where Momondo has a strong market position. Conversely, in countries like Germany and Austria, Priceline’s brands have a stronger market position and Momondo is weaker. Therefore, the strengthening of the merged entity’s market position in EEA markets will be limited.
  • The merged entity will be competing with several other global meta search operators, such as Skyscanner, Trivago, TripAdvisor, Google (through Google Hotels and Google flights), as well as by operators of smaller, regional or national, meta search sites.

The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns on any of the markets examined.

Companies and products

Priceline Group of the US supplies services in 224 countries and territories in Europe, North America, South America, the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East and Africa.

Momondo Group of the UK provides services in the online travel sector in 35 international markets with a focus on the Nordic region.

Merger control rules and procedures

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 12 June 2017.

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

A non-confidential version of today’s decision will be available on the Commission’scompetition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8416.

Latest daily news

President Juncker at the G20 in Hamburg: warns against protectionism

President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Pierre Moscovici are attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg today and tomorrow. Under the German G20 Presidency, the G20 nations will be meeting under the motto “Shaping an interconnected world”. This morning, President Juncker and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk held a joint press conference ahead of the start of the G20 Summit. Speaking of the global economy outlook, President Juncker said: “This year, we are meeting with the wind in our sails. All 28 Member States of the EU are growing. Since 2013, ten million jobs have been created in the European Union. We have the lowest unemployment in nine years […]. There are 233 million Europeans at work – the highest employment rate we have ever had in the European Union.” President Juncker also said that “going back to protectionism is not the way ahead,” instead, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement concluded yesterday, was the right way forward, adding that this agreement takes account of all European interests and high standards related to labour, environment and data protection. President Juncker underlined the importance of a partnership with Africa and described climate change as “the biggest challenge for the future”. Concrete G20 commitments in support of Africa are central to the Summit. Work at G20 Summit will take place in four working sessions on: 1. Global Growth and Trade; 2. Sustainable Development, Climate and Energy; 3. Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health and 4. Digitalisation, Women’s Empowerment and Employment. The EU’s priorities for the G20 Summit are outlined in the joint letter by Presidents Juncker and Tusk sent to EU Heads of State or Government on 4 July. President Juncker’s press remarks are available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

EU boosts aid to drought affected countries in the Horn of Africa

The European Commission has announced additional humanitarian assistance of €60 million to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, who have been facing critical levels of food insecurity due to severe drought. This additional assistance brings EU humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region (including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti) to nearly €260 million since the beginning of the year.  “The situation in Horn of Africa has drastically deteriorated in 2017 and it keeps getting worse. Millions of people are struggling to meet their and their families’ food needs. The risk of famine is real. The European Union has been following the situation closely since the very beginning and progressively increasing aid to the affected populations. This new package will help our humanitarian partners scale up the response further and keep bringing lifesaving assistance to people in need,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The newly announced EU assistance will support humanitarian partners already responding to the needs of the affected populations to step up emergency food assistance and treatment of malnutrition. Projects addressing water supply, livestock protection and response to outbreaks will also be supported. The bulk of the funding (€40 million) will go to help the most vulnerable in Somalia, while €15 million will go to Ethiopia and €5 million to Kenya. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Les principaux défis de la future Politique Agricole Commune identifiés par la consultation publique

La Commission a présenté aujourd’hui, le 7 juillet, les résultats de la consultation publique sur “la modernisation et la simplification de la Politique Agricole Commune (PAC)”. Le Commissaire à l’agriculture, Phil Hogan, a ouvert la conférence consacrée aux enseignements de la consultation et a déclaré à cette occasion: “Nous vivons aujourd’hui une autre étape importante vers l’avenir de la Politique Agricole Commune et il s’agit là d’une opportunité pour les parties prenantes de contribuer encore plus au débat en cours. La réaction du public à la consultation démontre le niveau d’intérêt qui existe pour la PAC, qui est une politique qui continue de soutenir un secteur agricole dynamique, d’assurer la production d’aliments sûrs et de grande qualité aux 508 millions de citoyens européens et d’investir massivement dans les zones rurales.” Les citoyens européens estiment que la politique agricole doit continuer à être gérée au niveau de l’UE et que le soutien aux agriculteurs et la protection de l’environnement devraient être ses principaux objectifs. Voici ce qu’il ressort principalement de la consultation publique qui aura reçu au cours de trois mois plus de 322 000 contributions d’un large éventail de parties prenantes, dont des agriculteurs, des citoyens à titre individuel, des ONGs, et autres. Les résultats de la consultation et l’analyse de terrain réalisée par la Commission seront utilisés pour élaborer une Communication qui contiendra des propositions législatives concrètes pour moderniser et simplifier la PAC. Un communiqué de presse est en ligne et les présentations de la conférence sont également disponibles en ligne. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

Agriculture: the Commission approves new geographical indication from Poland

The Commission has approved today the addition of one new product from Poland to the quality register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGI). ‘Kiełbasa biała parzona wielkopolska’ is a pork sausage produced in the Wielkopolskie, Lubuskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie Provinces. The only seasonings used are salt, pepper, garlic and marjoram, which dominates. ‘Kiełbasa biała parzona wielkopolska’ grew so much in popularity over time that butchers began to produce it outside the festive seasons. It can be served fried in lard with onions and finely chopped sour apples or grilled. Throughout Wielkopolska, ‘kiełbasa biała parzona wielkopolska’ is served in a traditional soup called żurek. This new denomination will be added to the list of over 1,400 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229)

Concentrations: la Commission approuve la prise de contrôle conjoint de CDPR par PGA et le groupe Bernard

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, la prise de contrôle conjoint de CDPR par la société PGA Group SAS et la société Bernard Participation SAS (Groupe Bernard), toutes basées en France. CDPR est active dans la distribution au détail de pièces de rechange d’origine PSA pour les véhicules automobiles particuliers et commerciaux et non d’origine pour tout type de véhicules. PGA est active dans la distribution au détail d’automobiles et de pièces de rechanges en France, en Pologne, aux Pays-Bas, en Belgique, en Espagne et en Italie. Le Groupe Bernard exploite diverses concessions d’automobiles et de camions en France. La Commission a conclu que l’opération envisagée ne soulevait pas de problème de concurrence compte tenu du caractère limité des parts de marché des sociétés et du nombre conséquent de concurrents présent sur les marchés concernés. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. Pour de plus amples informations, veuillez consulter le registre public des affaires de concurrence sur le site web de la Commission consacré à la concurrence, sous le numéro M.8491. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of SAVE by DAAM, InfraVia and FIH

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of SAVE S.p.A. of Italy, by Deutsche Alternative Asset Management (Global) Limited (DAAM) of the UK, InfraVia Capital Partners of France, and Finanziaria Internazionale Holding S.p.A. (FIH) of Italy. SAVE, which is currently controlled by FIH, operates mainly in the airport management business. DAAM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, is a management company that provides investment management and fund management services. InfraVia is an independent investment manager dedicated to the infrastructure sectors, including transportation, environment, energy and social infrastructure. FIH is a financial company active in investment banking and asset management, business process outsourcing, and proprietary investments. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because SAVE is not active in the same market as its new parents. In addition, the relationships between the ground handling services that SAVE provides at some of the airports it manages and the supply of ground support equipment by TCR, which is one of DAAM’s portfolio companies, would only have a marginal impact on the market structure. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8470. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Mergers: Commission clears creation of a joint venture by Gasunie, Vopak and Oiltanking

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over a newly created joint venture by Gasunie LNG Holding B.V., Vopak LNG Holding B.V., both of the Netherlands, and Oiltanking GmbH of Germany. The joint venture will own and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Northern Germany. Gasunie is a European gas infrastructure company which owns and operates the Dutch transmission system and an LNG terminal in the Netherlands. Vopak is an independent tank storage provider, operating two LNG import terminals in the Netherlands and in Mexico. Oiltanking is an independent storage services provider for petroleum products, chemical gases and dry bulk. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the companies are not active in the same product and geographic markets, or in a market which is upstream or downstream from those markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8484.  (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Des régions d’Espagne, de France et d’Italie destinations touristiques phares dans l’UE

Dans l’Union européenne (UE), le tourisme est avant tout une affaire intérieure. Environ 90% des nuitées touristiques dans l’UE sont le fait de résidents des États membres, ce qui signifie que les touristes des pays hors-UE ne représentent que quelque 10% du total. Et lorsqu’ils sont en voyage, les résidents de l’UE passent près de 85% de leurs nuitées au sein même de l’UE, contre à peine plus de 15% dans des destinations extra-UE. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

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