Competition weekly news summary
Friday, May 15, 2009

Conferences and speeches

  • Commission takes antitrust action against Intel
    Opening Remarks at Press Conference, Brussels, Neelie Kroes
    13 May 2009
    "Naturally, the Commission favours strong, vigorous price competition, including by dominant firms. However, Intel went beyond normal price competition by giving rebates to computer manufacturers on the condition that they bought all, or almost all, of their CPUs from Intel."
  • State aid decisions on Landesbanken
    Opening Remarks at Press Conference, Brussels, Neelie Kroes
    12 May 2009
    "These particular cases - WestLB and BayernLB – illustrate the need for a profound restructuring in the German Landesbanks sector in order to ensure its long-term viability and they provide possible templates for dealing with these banks. Potentially this will contribute to a consolidation among the Landesbanks, but whatever the path forward you can be sure that our focus remains long-term viability."

Antitrust

Mergers

  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Hypo Real Estate by Germany's Financial Market Stabilisation Fund
    15 May 2009
    The Commission approved the acquisition of the German financial institution Hypo Real Estate AG ("HRE") by Germany's state-owned Financial Market Stabilisation Fund ("SoFFin"). The Commission has assessed horizontal overlaps between HRE and KfW, and concluded that the proposed transaction would only have a negligible impact on competition. This decision is separate from the state aid investigation, opened on 7th May 2009 (see IP/09/712), which remains open. (D-4)
  • Commission approves acquisition of British Midland by Lufthansa
    14 May 2009
    The Commission approved the proposed acquisition of British Midland (bmi) of the UK by Lufthansa of Germany. The parties, both members of the star alliance, already cooperate on many routes and the proposed transaction is not likely to modify their behaviour. On routes where the parties currently do not cooperate, the combined entity would, inter alia, continue to face sufficient competition. As regards cargo transport and transport related services, bmi's operations are limited in scope and the proposed merger would not have any significant impact on these markets. (F-4)
  • Commission approves proposed creation of joint venture between Lonza and Teva
    14 May 2009
    THe Commission approved the proposed creation of a joint venture to be active in the biosimilar industry, between the two pharmaceutical companies Lonza of Switzerland and Teva of Israel. Biosimilars are the generic equivalent of drugs produced using biological processes. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, as the new entity would face a number of serious competitors on all markets concerned. (D-4)
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Cefetra by ForFarmers
    14 May 2009
    The Commission approved the proposed acquisition of Cefetra BV by ForFarmers BV, both of The Netherlands. Cefetra is a supplier of raw materials for animal feed. ForFarmers is mainly active in the manufacturing and sale of animal feed and the breeding and sale of poultry for egg-laying. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction was unlikely to raise competition concerns, inter alia because of the absence of horizontal overlaps between the parties' activities. (E-4)
  • Commission approves proposed joint venture between ABB and Fincantieri
    11 May 2009
    The Commission approved the proposed creation of a joint venture, focussing on marine automation systems, between the Swiss provider of power and automation systems ABB and the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The Commission's examination showed that for all types of marine automation systems, the merged entity would continue to face several strong, effective competitors with significant market shares. (E-4)
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of the hard disk drive business of Fujitsu by Toshiba
    11 May 2009
    The Commission approved the acquisition of the hard disk drive (HDD) business of Fujitsu Limited by Toshiba Corporation, both of Japan. The Commission's investigation revealed that Toshiba would continue to face significant competitors after the merger, in a market where technological progress is relatively fast, resulting in short product life cycles. Toshiba is active in numerous markets that are vertically linked to the market of Mobile HDDs. However, the Commission found that Toshiba did not have sufficient market power in the mobile HDD market to give rise to competition concerns. (C-5)

State aid

  • Commission approves €11 million Swedish training aid to Scania
    14 May 2009
    The Commission approved a Swedish €11 million grant for a staff training programme at Scania's plants at Södertälje, Oskarshamm and Luleå, all in Sweden. The Commission found that the training programme was aimed at increasing the general knowledge and skills of the workforce and should result in improving the workers' employability. The aid will lead to additional training that would not have been carried out without the aid. It is therefore compatible with EU state aid rules. (E-3)
  • Commission refers Poland to Court of Justice for failure to recover illegal aid from Technologie Buczek
    14 May 2009
    The Commission referred Poland to the European Court of Justice for its failure to comply with a Commission decision of 23 October 2007 (see IP/07/1590). The decision ordered Poland to recover illegal and incompatible state aid from Technologie Buczek and two of its subsidiaries, Huta Buczek and Buczek Automotive. To date, Poland has not achieved a full recovery of the illegal aid. (H-4)
  • Commission authorises French aid worth €46.3 million for the BioIntelligence R&D programme
    14 May 2009
    The Commission approved a €46.3 million aid granted by France to the BioIntelligence research and development (R&D) programme. BioIntelligence will promote the use of systemic modelling and simulation tools to exploit biomedical data bases. The programme is in line with the EU state aid rules, because it addresses a market failure and will create positive effects in the bioinformatic and public health sectors without significantly changing competition conditions. (H-2)
  • Commission approves extension of French scheme for refinancing credit institutions
    13 May 2009
    The Commission approved the extension of a French refinancing scheme for credit institutions. The extended measures, initially approved on 31 October 2008 (see IP/08/1609), are in line with EU state aid rules, because they are limited in time and scope. (D-5)
  • Commission approves aid package for German bank WestLB
    12 May 2009
    The Commission approved the €5 billion risk shield for German bank WestLB and accompanying measures, following an in-depth investigation opened in October 2008 (see IP/08/1435). Germany asked for a prolongation of the risk shield, initially authorised by the Commission as temporary rescue aid on 30 April 2008 (see IP/08/665). In light of the far-reaching measures proposed to restore WestLB's long-term viability without undue distortions of competition, the Commission concluded that the aid was compatible with the Single Market. (D-3)
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into aid package for German Landesbank BayernLB and its Austrian subsidiary Hypo Group Alpe Adria
    12 May 2009
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into state aid for the German Landesbank BayernLB and its Austrian subsidiary Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA). The Commission will verify whether two capital injections and a risk shield, worth together over €15 billion, are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of an in-depth investigation is common for state interventions of this magnitude and will ensure legal certainty for the companies concerned. (D-5)
  • Commission approves additional aid measures from Belgium and Luxemburg for Fortis
    12 May 2009
    The Commission approved additional aid measures for Fortis, stemming from amendments to the agreement between Fortis Holding, BNP Paribas, Fortis Bank and the Belgian and Luxemburg authorities. The Commission found the measures in line with EU state aid rules, because they were limited to the minimum necessary to reach their goal. (D-3 and D-5)
  • Commission approves recapitalisation of Allied Irish Bank
    12 May 2009
    The Commission approved an emergency recapitalisation worth €3.5 billion that the Irish authorities intend to grant to Allied Irish Bank. The measure is in line with EU state aid rules, because it is limited in scope, requires an adequate remuneration and provides safeguards to minimise distortions of competition. (D-3)
  • GM Europe restructuring
    Vice-President Verheugen and Commissioners Kroes and Špidla call for co-ordinated action and full respect of EU state aid and internal market rules
    12 May 2009
    Following recent developments concerning possible national support measures for the restructuring of GM Europe (including Opel/Vauxhall), Vice-President Verheugen and Commissioners Kroes and Špidla welcome the efforts undertaken, but repeat the need for co-ordinated action and full respect of EC Treaty rules.
  • Commission approves amendments to Latvian support for JSC Parex Banka
    11 May 2009
    The Commission approved amendments to the recapitalisation of the Latvian JSC Parex Banka, initially approved on 24 November 2008 (see IP/08/1766). Under the proposed changes, Latvia would acquire newly issued ordinary shares and subordinated term debt. The Commission found the amended measure in line with EU state aid rules, because it is subject to an adequate remuneration, does not exceed the minimum necessary and is limited in time. (D-3)

Subscriptions:

Editorial and legal information

Published by the Competition Directorate General of the European Commission. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission. Neither the Commission nor any person acting on its behalf is responsible for the use which might be made of the above information.

© European Communities, 2009. Reproduction is authorised, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. Requests for commercial reproduction should be sent to:
Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Author Services Unit, 'Licences & Copyright' 2, rue Mercier. L-2985 Luxembourg.
Fax: (352) 29 29 42755, e-mail: opoce-info-copyright@publications.europa.eu