Competition weekly news summary
Friday, July 23, 2010

Antitrust

  • Commission fines animal feed phosphates producers €175 647 000 for price-fixing and market-sharing in first "hybrid" cartel settlement case
    20 July
    The Commission concluded its first settlement of a cartel case in a hybrid scenario, where both the settlement and ordinary procedures were followed. It fined producers of animal feed phosphates a total of €175 647 000 for operating a cartel that lasted over three decades and covered a large part of the EEA territory. All but one company settled the case with the Commission and therefore received a 10% reduction each of their fine.
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Mergers

  • Commission approves SAP's acquisition of Sybase
    20 July 2010
    The Commission's investigation confirmed that horizontal anti-competitive effects are unlikely to occur in any of the relevant markets, notably in the absence of significant overlaps. In addition, the merged entity will continue to face strong competition from numerous players in all relevant markets.
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  • Commission allows Sky Italia to participate in allocation of digital terrestrial TV frequencies, subject to conditions
    20 July 2010
    The Commission authorised Sky Italia, the Italian subsidiary of Newscorp, to participate in the future tender for the allocation of nationwide digital terrestrial television frequencies in Italy. The Commission thereby relieved Sky Italia of one of the commitments given in 2003, when Newscorp created Sky Italia by merging Stream and Telepiù. Following significant changes in the Italian TV market in the last few years, the Commission found it appropriate to endorse Sky Italia's request under certain conditions.
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  • Commission clears Univar's acquisition of Eurochem's Belgian and Dutch activities, refers purchase of business in France to French competition authority
    19 July 2010
    The Commission approved part of the proposed acquisition of the activities of Eurochem by Univar, both chemical companies. The Commission found that Univar's acquisition of the Belgian and Dutch activities of Eurochem would not raise competition concerns, in particular because other players will put sufficient constraints on the merged entity. At the same time, the Commission has referred the part of the proposed acquisition relating to Eurochem's activities in France to the French competition authority at the latter's request. After a preliminary investigation, the Commission found that this part of the proposed transaction would threaten to significantly affect competition in the distribution of chemicals in France. Those aspects will now be examined by the French competition authority under national law.
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State aid

  • Commission clears extension of bank support measures in Portugal and Spain
    23 July 2010
    The Commission has extended until 31 December 2010 its authorisation of the Portuguese bank guarantee and bank recapitalisation schemes and of the Spanish recapitalisation measures in favour of the banking sector. The extended Portuguese guarantee scheme requires the banks to pay higher premiums for the guarantees granted by the State. This is to encourage banks to finance themselves without state support and to limit distortions of competition.
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  • Commission proposes Council Regulation on State aid to close uncompetitive coal mines
    20 July 2010
    The Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Regulation on state aid to facilitate the closure of loss-making hard coal mines in the EU by 1st October 2014.
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  • Commission orders recovery of illegal state aid from Banco Privado Português
    20 July 2010
    The Commission concluded that a state guarantee on a €450 million loan, initially granted in 2008, to Banco Privado Português (BPP) constituted illegal and incompatible state aid and ordered Portugal to recover it.
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  • Commission endorses €17 million aid to Solibro for solar modules plant in Bitterfeld-Wolfen
    20 July 2010
    The Commission authorised €17 million of regional investment aid for the German company Solibro GmbH for the production of solar modules in Bitterfeld-Wolfen (Sachsen-Anhalt), Germany. The Commission found the aid to be in line with EU state aid rules, because, on balance, the positive effects of the investment on regional development outweigh potential distortions of competition brought about by the aid.
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  • Commission endorses investment aid to Silicio Solar for production of solar wafers in Puertollano
    20 July 2010
    The Commission authorised €8.5 million of regional investment aid to the Spanish company Silicio Solar SAU for the production of solar wafers in Puertollano, Ciudad Real (Castilla-La–Mancha). The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules, because, on balance, the positive effects of the aid on regional development outweigh potential distortions of competition brought about by the aid.
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  • Commission approves state aid for high speed internet in Estonia
    20 July 2010
    The Commission authorised Estonia's plans to support the establishment of a country wide high speed broadband infrastructure. The Commission found the project to be in line with the state aid rules, because it could not have been induced through market forces alone and the infrastructure will be available to all operators under the same conditions.
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  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into aid to French aeronautic suppliers
    20 July 2010
    The Commission opened a formal investigation procedure into the French 'Aero 2008' project, which offers exchange rate risk insurance to companies supplying parts to aircraft manufacturers.
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  • Commission approves new tax-based funding system for Spanish public broadcaster RTVE
    20 July 2010
    The Commission approved the new tax-based funding system for the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. After an in-depth investigaiton, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU state aid rules, because it ensures that RTVE will not be overcompensated for providing public broadcasting services.
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  • Commission approves long-term funding mechanism for France Télévisions
    20 July 2010
    The Commission approved the annual funding mechanism for France Télévisions. After an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the measure complies with EU state aid rules, in particular because it ensures that France Télévisions is not overcompensated for its public service mission.
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  • Commission approves modified Swedish scheme in support of newspapers
    20 July 2010
    The Commission concluded that a modified Swedish scheme to support newspapers is now in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the method for calculating state support to metropolitan newspapers has been fundamentally changed and the aid intensities significantly reduced.
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  • Commission maintains higher regional aid ceilings for Hainaut (Belgium), Dytiki Makedonia and Kentriki Makedonia (Greece), and Basilicata (Italy)
    20 July 2010
    The Commission decided to allow the regions of Hainaut in Belgium, Dytiki Makedonia and Kentriki Makedonia in northern Greece, and Basilicata in southern Italy, to continue to grant regional aid at a basic intensity of 30 % from 1 January 2011 onwards. As from that date, the regional aid ceilings in the 12 other regions that were allowed to maintain higher ceilings because their GDP per capita had increased only artificially after the accession of ten Member States on 1 May 2004, will be reduced from 30 % to 20 %. These 12 regions are located in Germany, Greece, Spain, Austria, Portugal and the UK.
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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.

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