Competition weekly news summary
Friday, July 3, 2009

Conferences and Speeches

  • Did government interventions help in the crisis?
    Address at International Banking Conference of British Bankers Association, London, Neelie Kroes
    30 June 2009
    "It is only our job to ensure that banks are in a state to survive on their own, and to ensure competition is not allowed to drain away from the UK and European banking sectors. It doesn't matter if the drain is because of oligopoly or public subsidy – it has to be stopped either way."
  • How can the EU contribute to a more prosperous future?
    Chatham House Conference: "Competition Policy after the Credit Crunch" London, Neelie Kroes
    26 June 2009
    "I don’t think it is just banks that need to change. We must recognize that we lived beyond our means. Everyone must be prepared to make changes to their lives - from kitchen tables to board-room tables."

Mergers

  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed takeover of Austrian Airlines by Lufthansa
    1 July 2009
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the planned acquisition of Austrian Airlines by Lufthansa of Germany. The Commission’s initial investigation indicated that the transaction could, on certain routes, give rise to reduced choice of airline services for passengers and the likelihood of higher fares.
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Tiscali UK by Carphone Warehouse
    30 June 2009
    The Commission cleared the acquisition of Tiscali UK Ltd, a subsidiary of Tiscali SpA of Italy, by The Carphone Warehouse Group Plc of the UK. The Commission’s examination found that the new entity will continue to face competition from a number of strong players, especially BT, and from a number of strong alternative operators, including those based on the cable platform.
  • Commission clears proposed takeover of SN Brussels Airlines by Lufthansa, subject to conditions
    22 June 2009
    The Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of SN Airholding (the holding company of SN Brussels Airlines) by Deutsche Lufthansa AG of Germany. Following an in-depth investigation, opened in January 2009 (see IP/09/129), the Commission found that the transaction, as originally notified, would have raised competition concerns on the routes Brussels-Frankfurt, Brussels-Munich, Brussels-Hamburg and Brussels-Zürich. To address these concerns, Lufthansa submitted a set of remedies, offering an efficient and timely slot allocation mechanism that would allow new entrants to operate flights on each of the four routes where the Commission had concerns.

Antitrust

State aid

  • Commission updates rules for state funding of public broadcasters
    2 July 2009
    The Commission adopted a new Communication on state aid for the funding of public service broadcasters. The main changes include an increased focus on accountability and effective control at the national level, including a transparent evaluation of the overall impact of publicly-funded new media services.
  • Commission opens an in-depth investigation into restructuring of TV 2 Denmark
    2 July 2009
    The Commission opened a formal investigation to verify whether the restructuring aid package for TV 2 Danmark A/S complies with EU state aid rules. The Commission will examine in particular, whether TV 2 Danmark A/S is viable without continued state support and whether the restructuring plan contains enough safeguards commensurate with the state support.
  • Commission temporarily approves recapitalisation and asset relief by Belgium for KBC Group
    30 June 2009
    The Commission authorised a package of measures that the Belgian authorities intend to grant to KBC Group N.V. A recapitalisation of €3.5 billion is in line with the Commission's Guidance Communications on state aid during the current financial crisis. The Commission also granted temporary clearance to an impaired asset relief scheme, pending the outcome of an in-depth investigation. While some of the provisions are in line with Commission guidance on the subject matter (see IP/09/322), others, including valuation of the portfolio, require further analysis before a final decision can be taken. Both measures were approved for six months on condition that Belgium submits an in-depth restructuring plan for KBC Group within 3 months.
  • Commission temporarily authorises recapitalisation and asset relief for German bank LBBW
    30 June 2009
    The Commission temporarily cleared a support package provided to Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) by the German State of Baden-Württemberg. A recapitalisation complies with the state aid rules, because it foresees an adequate remuneration. However, the Commission will undertake a further in-depth analysis of the complex valuation of the impaired assets before taking a final decision on the compatibility of the asset relief scheme. Both measures have been approved for six months.
  • Commission approves €50 million rescue aid loan to German retailer Quelle
    30 June 2009
    The Commission authorised a rescue aid loan of €50 million in favour of Quelle GmbH which will be granted by the German Federal State and the Länder of Bavaria and Saxony. The aid is in line with the state aid rules, because it takes the form of a loan and is limited in time.
  • Overview of national measures adopted as a response to the financial/economic crisis
    29 June 2009
  • Commission approves recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank
    26 June 2009
    The Commission authorised an emergency recapitalisation worth €4 billion that the Irish authorities intend to grant to Anglo Irish Bank. The measure is in line with the state aid rules, because it is limited in time and contains adequate safeguards to minimise distortions of competition. The aid is approved as a temporary rescue measure and Ireland has committed to submit a restructuring plan for the bank until the end of November 2009.

Court

  • T-291/06 Operator ARP v Commision
    T-273/06 ISD Polska and Donbass v Commission
    T-288/06 Regionalny Fundusz Gosdpodarczy v Commission
    1 July 2009
    The Court of First Instance ruled on several appeals against a Commission decision of 5 July 2005, declaring restructuring aid in favour of the Polish steel company Huta Czestochowa incompatible with EU state aid rules and ordering its recovery. The CFI entirely upheld the Commission's conclusion that the aid was incompatible and had to be recovered from the beneficiaries. In particular, the CFI confirmed the Commission's competence to take a decision on aid in the steel sector granted prior to Poland's EU accession, on the basis of provisions contained in an annex to Poland's accession Treaty. However, the CFI ruled that one of the beneficiaries, Operator ARP, could not be held jointly and severally liable to repay the aid, because the Commission had not sufficiently demonstrated an actual benefit of a competitive advantage derived from the aid.
  • T-81/06 KG Holding v Commission
    1 July 2009
    The Court of First Insance ruled on an appeal against a Commission decision of 19 July 2006 declaring restructuring aid for the Dutch company Kliq incompatible with EU state aid rules and ordering its recovery. The CFI confirmed the Commission's finding that the restructuring aid was incompatible but annulled the recovery order.
  • T-24/07 ThyssenKrupp Stainless v Commission
    1 July 2009
    The Court of First Instance ruled on an appel against a Commission decision of 20 December 2006 imposing fines on several companies for a price fixing agreement in the steel sector. The CFI rejected ThyssenKrupp's appeal for an annullment of the Commisison decision and upheld the fine in its entirety.

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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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