European Union: European Antitrust & Competition - April 2012

Last Updated: 18 April 2012
Article by Gillian Sproul

Originally published 10 April, 2012

Keywords:Phase 1, merger notifications, mining, mineral sands

EU Competition

EU – Phase I merger notifications

Companies

Sector

Further Information

Rio Tinto/Richards Bay Minerals

Rio Tinto: mining including aluminium, copper, diamonds, minerals, energy and iron ore, and mining, separation, beneficiation and smelting of rock ilmenite and minerals sands.

Richards Bay Minerals: mining, separation, beneficiation and smelting of mineral sands.

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ESB NM/BPAEL/Heliex Power Limited

ESB NM: investments in the cleantech and renewables sector.

BPAEL: investments in cleantech and renewable energy businesses.

Heliex Power Limited: development of screw expanders for use in the waste heat recovery sector.

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Freudenberg & Co/ Trelleborg/JV

Freudenberg: global developer and producer of seals, vibration control technology components, filters, nonwovens, release agents, speciality lubricants and mechatronics products.

Trelleborg: global industrial business engaged in the manufacture of anti-vibration systems for automotive and industrial applications, products and solutions for noise suppression in vehicles, wheel systems, industrial fluid systems and engineered solutions based on polymer materials.

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Commission publishes interim text of commitments accepted in International Consolidated Airlines Group/British Midland Limited merger On 4 April 2012, the European Commission published a non-confidential version of the commitments accepted as a condition of its approval of IAG's acquisition of bmi. To address its competition concerns, the Commission has accepted IAG's commitments to release 14 daily slot pairs at London Heathrow, in order to facilitate entry into the market, and to carry connecting passengers of competing airlines' long-haul flights out of London Heathrow. Read more.

Commission opens Article 102 proceedings against Motorola On 3 April 2012, the European Commission announced that it has opened two formal antitrust investigations against Motorola. The Commission will investigate whether Motorola has abusively, and in contravention of its commitments to standard-setting organisations, used certain standard-essential patents to distort competition in the EU and in breach of EU antitrust rules. Motorola's commitments included licensing its standard-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. In particular, following Apple and Microsoft's complaints, the Commission will investigate whether Motorola has breached Article 102 by seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple and Microsoft's products on the basis of these standardessential patents, and by offering unfair licensing conditions for its standard-essential patents. Read more.

UK Competition

OFT secures improvements for domestic bulk LPG customers On 5 April 2012, the OFT announced that it has secured voluntary agreements from the major liquefied petroleum gas suppliers to make changes to their domestic bulk customer contracts and to improve transparency in relation to switching and cancellation rights. In particular, the changes should lead to improved rights to cancel or to switch supplier, clearer exit charges and customers understanding their options after an initial lock-in period. Read more.

OFT refers private healthcare market to Competition Commission On 4 April 2012, the OFT published its decision to refer the market for UK's privately funded healthcare services to the Competition Commission for a market investigation. Following its private healthcare market study and its public consultation on its findings, the OFT believes the private healthcare market could work better for patients and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that features of the market prevent, restrict or distort competition. Read more.

Serious Fraud Office announcement on Sports direct/JJB investigation On 4 April 2012, following an investigation under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Enterprise Act 2002, the SFO announced that charges have been brought against Christopher Ronnie, JJB Sports plc's former chief executive, and David Patrick Ball, an accountant and beneficial owner of Fashion & Sport Limited, a supplier to JJB. The case involved an alleged £1m fraud relating to contracts entered into by JJB in 2008, and was referred to the SFO by the OFT. Read more.

OFT issues call for evidence on home insulation market On 3 April 2012, the OFT announced that it has issued a public call for evidence on the home insulation market to understand whether it is working well for consumers. In particular, the OFT is interested to understand if the market may be restricting entry of new competitors, limiting consumer choice or keeping prices artificially high. It has issued separate questionnaires for different categories of stakeholders, which must be completed by 2 May 2012. Read more.

State aid

Commission opens in-depth State aid investigation into support for Carcassonne airport On 4 April 2012, the European Commission announced that it has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether financial arrangements between the French public authorities and France's Carcassonne airport, and rebates and marketing arrangements between Ryanair and the airport, are in line with EU State aid rules. In particular, the Commission is concerned that these arrangements are not compatible with its guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports. Read more.

Commission opens in-depth State aid investigation into a Belgian protection scheme for shareholders of financial cooperatives On 3 April 2012, the European Commission announced that it has decided to open an in-depth investigation to assess whether an extension of the Belgian deposit guarantee scheme, which is aimed at protecting shares in financial cooperatives, is in line with EU State aid rules. The Commission is concerned that the scheme may attract or maintain capital because of the State support, conferring those cooperatives an unfair economic advantage over their competitors. Read more.

Commission opens in-depth State aid investigation into sale of Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg On 3 April 2012, the European Commission announced that it has opened an in-depth investigation to ascertain whether Dexia BIL is being sold at market price and therefore does not contain any State aid element. The business being sold to a private investor mainly comprises Dexia BIL's retail and private banking businesses, whereas other businesses have been carved-out from the sale. The private investor would acquire 90% of the business and Luxembourg the remaining 10% under the same terms and conditions. The Commission does not have enough information on the exclusive negotiations with the private investor or the valuation of the carved-out businesses at this stage. Read more.

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