Competition weekly news summary
Friday, June 19, 2009

Mergers

  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Sulzer by Renova
    18 June 2009
    The Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of Sulzer AG of Switzerland by Renova Industries Ltd. of the Bahamas. Both companies are involved inter alia in thin film coating of metal tools and components. The Commission's investigation found that the proposed merger would not significantly change the competitive landscape in any of the affected markets as a sufficient number of competitors would continue to provide both, thin film coating services and equipment.
  • Merger Regulation contributes to more efficient merger control in EU
    18 June 2009
    The EU Merger Regulation (Regulation 139/2004) has contributed to more efficient merger control within the EU since it came into force on 1st May 2004, according to a report adopted by the Commission today. Turnover thresholds have in most cases been effective in distinguishing cases of EU relevance from those with a primarily national focus. Also, the improved system of case re-allocation between the Commission and the National Competition Authorities introduced in 2004 has allowed business to benefit from the Commission's "one-stop-shop" assessment and to have their cases reviewed by the more appropriate authority. The report nevertheless identifies certain areas where further reflection may be useful.

State aid

  • Commission endorses €33 million aid to Volvo Aero Corporation for GEnx aeroengine component R & D
    18 June 2009
    The Commission has authorised a repayable advance of SEK 304 million (approx. €33 million) that Sweden intends to grant to Volvo Aero Corporation for the research and development of GEnx aircraft engine components. The GEnx engine is being developed by General Electric for the Boeing B787 and B747-8 aeroplanes. After an in-depth investigation, the Commission found that the project complies with the state aid rules, because the aid addresses a market failure, it enables Volvo Aero to carry out additional research and the aid amount is proportionate to the nature of the market failure.
  • Commission approves UK £113.7 million R&D aid to Short Brothers for development of composite wings
    18 June 2009
    The Commission authorised a repayable cash advance of £113.7 million (€120.59 million) that the UK plans to give to Short Brothers PLC, a 100% subsidiary of Bombardier, for the development of composite wings for Bombardier's new CSeries aircraft. Bombardier Aerospace is relaunching the CSeries project, which develops a new family of commercial aircraft in the 110-130 seat range. The proposed aid would have positive effects in terms of knowledge sharing with only a limited impact on competition.
  • Commission endorses €51.9 million aid for Ford investment in Almussafes, Spain
    18 June 2009
    The Commission authorised €51.9 million of aid, which the Spanish authorities intend to grant to Ford Espaρa for a radical transformation of an existing plant in Almussafes. The measure is in line with the state aid rules, because the project will significantly contribute to the development of the region's economy without unduly distorting competition.
  • Commission gives France the go-ahead to grant €33 million to Carmat's R&D programme for the development of an artificial heart
    18 June 2009
    The Commission authorised financial support of €33 million granted by France to Carmat's R&D programme. The lead company, Carmat S.A.S., backed up by industrial partners and SMEs will develop an artificial heart that is fully implantable. The programme is in line with the state aid rules, because it remedies a market failure and it will have a positive impact, especially in the public health sector, without significantly altering competition conditions.
  • Commission refers Spain to Court of Justice for failure to recover illegal aid from Magefesa Group
    18 June 2009
    The Commission decided to refer Spain to the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with a Commission decision of 14 October 1998 (see IP/98/906). The decision ordered Spain to recover illegal and incompatible state aid from Indosa-CMD, a subsidiary of the Magefesa Group. To date, Spain has not achieved full recovery of the illegal aid.
  • Commission authorises Irish health insurance tax and levy scheme
    18 June 2009
    The Commission authorised an Irish scheme of levies and tax relief in the health insurance sector. The objective of the scheme is to promote intergenerational solidarity by decreasing the risk differentials for health insurers between old and young customers. The aid is in line with the state aid rules, because none of the insurers would be overcompensated for the discharge of the public service.
  • Commission endorses €25 million aid to Sovello AG for String-Ribbon solar modules plant in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
    18 June 2009
    The Commission authorised €25 million of regional investment aid for the German company Sovello AG (formerly EverQ GmbH) for the production of String-Ribbon solar modules in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. The project involves investment of €115 million and is expected to create over 1000 new jobs in the region. The aid is in line with the state aid rules, because its positive impact on regional development outweighs the potential distortions of competition.
  • Commission approves aid measure to Austrian bank Hypo Tirol for enabling lending to real economy
    17 June 2009
    The Commission authorised a recapitalisation measure for Hypo Tirol, an Austrian bank, for ensuring lending to the real economy. The measure is in line with the state aid rules, because it is limited in scope, requires an adequate remuneration and provides safeguards to minimise distortions of competition.
  • Commission authorises proposed Danish CO2 tax reductions under certain conditions
    17 June 2009
    The Commission authorised a Danish project to grant CO 2 tax relief to companies covered by the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), subject to conditions. The Commission concluded that if the proposed full tax exemption would be implemented, some of the environmental objectives which a tax on energy products aims to achieve would be lost. The Commission also had concerns that a full tax exemption would distort competition by increasing tax differentiations in an area where the EU has harmonised taxes and set tax minima to create a level playing field between companies. The Commission therefore approved the measure under the condition that it is amended so that all concerned companies pay an energy tax respecting at least the harmonised minima tax levels.
  • Commission proposes appropriate measures to bring Swedish press aid into line with Single Market
    17 June 2009
    The Commission has proposed appropriate measures to Sweden to make a Swedish scheme providing for state support to Swedish newspapers compatible with EU state aid rules. The proposals include a gradual reduction in aid ceilings for large metropolitan newspapers and a cap on operation costs. Sweden now has to inform the Commission within three months (which may be extended, if necessary) whether it can agree to the proposed amendments. Failing an agreement, the Commission may open a formal state aid investigation.
  • Commission approves prolongation of Italian bank guarantee scheme
    16 June 2009
    The Commission approved the prolongation of an Italian guarantee scheme for banks, initially authorised on 13 November 2008 (see IP/08/1706).

Court

  • T-269/03 Socratec v Commission and T-48/04 Qualcomm v Commission
    19 June 2009
    The Court of First Instance ruled on two appeals against a Commission decision of 30 April 2003 clearing a joint venture between DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom for the development and operation of a new system of road toll collection for heavy trucks on German highways. Socratec, a German provider of telematics services, and Qulacomm, a US provider of gloabal wireless communications products and services, appealed the Commission's decision. The CFI upheld the Commission decision, dismissed Qualcomm's appeal and decided that there was no more need to rule on Socratec's appeal, the company having filed for bancruptcy in 2004.

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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 Union, 2009. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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