Competition weekly news summary
Friday, May 8, 2009

Conferences and speeches

  • State aid decisions on Commerzbank, Hypo Real Estate and Northern Rock
    Opening Remarks at Press Conference, Brussels, Neelie Kroes
    7 May 2009
    "In essence, as I hope is clear from today's three announcements, we will be making tailored decisions that help each bank best adjust to new market conditions. With each decision we aim to enhance financial stability. With so much taxpayers' money at stake, aid cannot be unconditional - taxpayers and the financial system must be protected at all stages."
  • Cutting the price of phone calls new termination rules
    Opening Remarks at Press Conference, Brussels, Neelie Kroes
    7 May 2009
    "The ability to communicate via mobile and fixed phones is at the heart of how we do business and live our lives throughout Europe. In fact, there are more mobile phones than people in Europe today and most households have also a fixed connection. So it is obvious that fair prices for fixed and mobile phone calls are a basic economic need for all Europeans, and a more competitive market is needed to deliver them."

Court

  • T-151/05 NVV and Others v Commission
    7 May 2009
    The Court of First Instance ruled on an appeal against a Commission decision of 21 December 2004 (see IP/04/1531), authorsing the acquisition of Hendrix Meat Group by Sovion in the abattoir and meat products sector. Two Dutch industry associations, NVV and NBHV, appealed the decision to the CFI. The CFI rejected all claims and upheld the Commission's decision to authorise the merger.
  • T-116/04 Wieland-Werke v Commission
    T-122/04 Outokumpu and Luvata v Commission
    T-127/04 KME Germany and Others v Commission
    6 May 2009
    The Court of First Instance ruled on an appeal against a Commission decision of 16 December 2003 (see IP IP/03/1746), fining Outokumpu, Wieland-Werke and the KME-group a total of 79 million for operating a cartel in the copper tubes market. All three companies appealed the Commission's decision before the CFI. The CFI rejected all three appeals, entirely confirming the Commission's decision and the fines imposed.

Mergers

  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Cadence by Magna
    7 May 2009
    The Commission approved the proposed acquisition of Cadence Innovation, a Czech manufacturer of car components, by one of its competitors, Magna of Canada. The parties' activities overlap only to a limited extent and the combined market shares of the merged entity would be rather low. (E-4)
  • Ombudsman finds no evidence of confidentiality breach by the Commission in Ryanair/Aer Lingus case
    4 May 2009
    On 27 June 2007, the Commission prohibited the proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair, because it would have combined the two leading airlines operating from Ireland and created a monopoly or a dominant position on many routes operated by both parties (see IP/07/893). In May 2007, Ryanair submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman, alleging that the Commission had disclosed sensitive information during the inquiry. The Ombudsman found no evidence of this and has closed his inquiry.

State aid

  • Commissioner Kroes hosts entrepreneurs roundtable seeks views on how to improve business climate for entrepreneurs
    7 May 2009
    Commissioner Neelie Kroes sought feedback from entrepreneurs on the problems they are experiencing and outlined steps taken by the Commission to facilitate state aid for SMEs, namely the General Block Exemption and the Temporary Framework. (A-3)
  • Commission approves recapitalisation of Commerzbank
    7 May 2009
    The Commission approved the recapitalisation of Commerzbank. On the basis of a German financial crisis scheme previously approved by the Commission, Germany already granted 8 billion of capital to the bank in December 2008 and intends to grant another 10 billion of capital. Germany notified this second tranche to the Commission for reasons of legal certainty so that the Commission could verify the compatibility of the measure with the state aid rules. On the basis of the notified plans, the Commission is satisfied that Commerzbank's long term viability has been demonstrated, that the aid is kept to the minimum and will not lead to undue distortions of competition. (D-3)
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into aid package for German bank Hypo Real Estate
    7 May 2009
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into state support measures for the German bank Hypo Real Estate, as a first step towards finding a viable long-term solution for the bank. (D-5)
  • Commission extends in-depth investigation into UK aid package for Northern Rock
    7 May 2009
    The Commission extended the scope of an in-depth investigation into a UK aid package for Northern Rock, following substantial amendments notified by the UK on 30 March 2009. The main change introduced is the split of Northern Rock into a 'good' bank, which would continue commercial activities, and a 'bad' bank with most of the previous mortgage loans, which would be wound down. (D-3)
  • Commission authorises Czech temporary scheme to grant compatible aid of up to 500 000
    7 May 2009
    The Commission approved a scheme, allowing for aid of up to 500 000 per firm to be granted until the end of 2010 for businesses facing funding problems because of the current credit squeeze. The scheme is in line with the EU state aid rules, because it is limited in time, respects the relevant thresholds and applies only to companies that were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008. (H-1)
  • Commission authorises Czech temporary scheme to grant reduced-interest loans
    6 May 2009
    The Commission approved a Czech scheme for firms encountering financing difficulties as a result of the credit squeeze in the current economic crisis. The measure allows authorities to grant aid in the form of reduced interest rates on loans of any duration concluded by 31 December 2010. It is in line with EU state aid rules, because it is limited in time and only applies to companies that were not in difficulties on 1 July 2008. (H-1)
  • Commission approves Danish export credit insurance scheme
    6 May 2009
    The Commission approved a Danish measure to limit the adverse impact of the current financial crisis on export firms. The measure is compatible with EU state aid rules, because it requires market-oriented remuneration and concerns insurance cover currently unavailable on the private market. The Commission authorised the measure until 31 December 2010. (D-3)

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