Competition weekly news summary
Friday, October 30, 2009

Antitrust

  • Commission steps up infringement procedure against Slovakia for not implementing Commission hybrid mail decision
    29 October 2009
    The Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Slovakia requiring it to implement a Commission decision of 2008, ordering Slovakia to end its remonopolisation of the hybrid mail sector (see IP/08/1467). To date, Slovakia has not informed the Commission of any measures to implement the Commission's decision. The 2008 Decision has binding and direct effect and is directly enforceable by national courts.
  • Commission calls on Slovenian telecoms regulator to review its broadband market analysis
    26 October 2009
    The Commission called on APEK, the Slovenian telecoms regulator, to appropriately define the markets for imposing regulatory remedies. Earlier this year APEK identified a market for access to unbundled local loops, the so-called last mile, and imposed remedies on the dominant operator, Telekom Slovenije. Now, APEK proposes a complementary measure that significantly deviates from its previous approach. The Commission found that APEK's proposal did not have convincing evidence and requested the Slovenian regulator to prove the distinguishing features of wholesale fibre access to different customers.
  • Commission asks Danish regulator to reconsider regulation of terminating calls to premium rate services
    26 October 2009
    The Commission called on the Danish telecoms regulator, IT- og Telestyrelsen (NITA), to reconsider its regulatory approach for terminating calls to non-geographic numbers operated by service providers that offer premium rate services to end-users. Unlike national regulators in other EU Member States, NITA regulates the price of these services, setting them at the same level as for "ordinary" termination services. However, terminating calls to service providers is generally characterised by different competitive conditions than terminating calls to end-users and therefore not necessarily subject to regulation.

Mergers

  • Commission clears Belgacom's acquisition of BICS and BICS' purchase of certain assets from MTN
    27 October 2009
    The Commission found that the proposed concentration would not give rise to any competition concerns, given the very small market share of BICS in the global market for wholesale telecommunications services. The Commission also analysed whether the acquisition of MTN's wholesale business would close off BICS' competitors from certain African countries in which MTN has an important position. However, the investigation found that a number of alternatives were available to route international traffic to those countries.
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of The Pepsi Bottling Group by PepsiCo
    27 October 2009
    The transaction would mainly lead to the vertical integration of the brand owner and its bottler. As before the transaction, PBG was already bottling, selling and distributing PepsiCo beverages and in most countries, PepsiCo was PBG's exclusive client, the proposed transaction would not significantly change the market structure.
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of PepsiAmericas by PepsiCo
    27 October 2009
    The proposed transaction would lead to the vertical integration of the brand owner and its bottler. As PAS was already bottling, selling and distributing PepsiCo beverages, it is unlikely that the transaction would lead to a significant change in the market structure.

State aid

  • Commission closes investigation into Hungarian intra-group interest taxation
    30 October 2009
    The Commission had concerns that the measure was liable to distort competition in the Single Market, as it was not open to all companies in Hungary and therefore could amount to state aid. However, as the measure was introduced before Hungary's EU accession in May 2004 and its state aid character was not immediately clear, the Commission concluded that the measure was to be classified as existing aid. The Commission does not need to open a separate procedure for existing aid (which is subject to a different set of rules) as Hungary has in the meantime adopted a law repealing the measure as of 1 st January 2010.
  • Commission refers France to Court for failure to recover illegal aid from Arbel Fauvet Rail
    29 October 2009
    The Commission decided to refer France to the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with a Commission decision of 2 April 2008 (see IP/08/531). The decision ordered France to recover illegal and incompatible state aid from Arbel Fauvet Rail. To date, France has not recovered this aid.
  • Commission authorises Danish NOX tax reduction for cement industry; opens in-depth investigation into waste tax exemption
    29 October 2009
    For industry which would be hit particularly hard by the tax, Denmark proposed two measures: a relief from the new NO X and a full exemption from the existing waste tax. The Commission concluded that the NO X tax relief was necessary and proportionate and as such in line with EU state aid rules. However, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation for the waste tax relief, because it had doubts as to the necessity and proportionality of the aid. In particular, the full exemption would leave no incentive to contribute to the environmental objective of the waste tax.
  • Commission approves changes to Danish short-term export-credit insurance scheme
    29 October 2009
    The Commission authorised changes to a Danish short-term export credit insurance scheme, initially approved on 5 May 2009 (see IP/09/706). The Commission found the amended scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules because it tackles a clear market failure. (
  • Commission approves restructuring package for Northern Rock
    28 October 2009
    The Commission authorised a package of measures to support the restructuring of UK mortgage bank Northern Rock. The bank will be split into a 'good' bank that will continue the economic activities of Northern Rock and a 'bad' bank, an asset management company which will run down the remaining assets. Following an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the aid is compatible with the EU rules on state aid. In particular, the Commission is satisfied that the measures will restore the long-term viability of the 'good' bank and will allow orderly liquidation of the 'bad' bank, without unduly distorting competition.
  • Commission requires Spain to abolish tax scheme favouring acquisitions of other European companies
    28 October 2009
    The Commission requested Spain to abolish a corporate tax provision that allows Spanish companies to amortise goodwill deriving from acquiring a stake in non-Spanish companies. After an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the scheme distorts competition within the Single Market because it confers an unjustified advantage to Spanish companies especially in the context of competitive takeover bids. As regards the application of this provision to acquisitions outside the EU, the Commission will continue its investigation.
  • Commission and Italy work together to adjust two helicopter research projects to EC Treaty rules
    28 October 2009
    The Commission concluded that Italian measures in favour of two R&D projects concerning helicopters are of a military nature and therefore fall within the scope of Article 296 of the EC Treaty (that allows Member States to take measures necessary for the protection of their essential security interests). The Commission has therefore closed its in-depth state aid investigation. However, the Commission considers that these measures also have an impact on the civilian market. Therefore, the Commission will continue to work with Italy in order to jointly examine how these measures can be adjusted to the rules laid down in the EC Treaty, including the competition rules.
  • Commission closes investigation into financing regime of Austria's public service broadcaster ORF
    28 October 2009
    The Commission concluded that the financing regime of Austria's public service broadcaster ORF is now, following formal commitments from the Austrian Government, in line with EU state aid rules and has closed its investigation. In particular, Austria has undertaken to clarify ORF's public service remit, to limit ORF's financing to what is strictly necessary to fulfil its public service tasks, to organise a public consultation on proposed new media services and to clearly separate ORF's commercial activities from its public service mission.
  • Commission authorises the creation of urban tax-free zones in Italy
    28 October 2009
    The Commission authorised the creation of urban tax-free zones in certain parts of Italy. The aim of the measure is to encourage the regeneration of particularly deprived areas. In the 22 areas concerned, small and micro-enterprises starting up new business activity will be eligible for a range of tax exemptions. The Commission concluded that the planned measures will not affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest and that the impact on trade will be very limited.
  • Commission authorises temporary Italian interest rate subsidies for green products
    26 October 2009
    The Commission authorised an Italian scheme offering interest rate subsidies for the production of environmentally friendly (green) products in the car parts sector. The Commission concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules, because it will facilitate investments in products featuring an early adaptation to EU standards for the improvement of environmental protection.

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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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