Competition weekly news summary
Friday, October 21, 2011

Conferences and speeches

  • Fuelling growth in Romania: The role of competition policy
    Conference on competition in sensitive sectors of the Romanian economy, Bucharest, Joaquín Almunia
    21 October 2011
    "Competition law enforcers – such as the Commission and the Romanian Competition Council – make sure that companies throughout Europe play fair and benefit from the same opportunities offered by the internal market. [...] Of course, these rules impose a degree of discipline on businesses which sometimes perceive them as an obstacle to their development. This perception is misguided. The belief that by protecting our businesses we can make them more competitive is simply wrong and ultimately dangerous for all our economies. It is precisely the discipline imposed by competition rules that pushes companies to increase their competitiveness. And by imposing this discipline at home, in national markets or in the internal market, we ensure that our firms are better equipped to take on their competitors on world markets. [...] A healthy competition environment is the best business card you can use to attract foreign investment where it is most needed, in the key sectors of the economy."
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Competition

  • October issue of the European Competition Network's news brief
    18 October 2011
    Go to News Brief Issue 4/2011 >
  • Commission reforms antitrust procedures and expands role of Hearing Officer
    17 October 2011
    The Commission has adopted a package of measures aimed at increasing interaction with parties in antitrust proceedings and strengthening the mechanisms for safeguarding parties' procedural rights. These measures give parties a clear picture of what to expect at different stages of an antitrust investigation and increase their ability to interact with the Commission services. If parties have a dispute about their procedural rights, they can refer the matter to the competition hearing officer, who will have an enhanced role to play.
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Antitrust

  • Commission opens proceedings against Johnson & Johnson and Novartis
    21 October 2011
    The Commission has opened an own initiative investigation, to assess whether contractual arrangements between US-based pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and the generic branches of the Swiss-based company Novartis may have had the object or effect of hindering the entry of generic versions of Fentanyl in The Netherlands.
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  • Commission fines producers of CRT glass € 128 million in fourth cartel settlement
    19 October 2011
    The Commission has settled a cartel investigation with four producers of cathode ray tubes (CRT) glass used in televisions and computer screens. Japanese firms Asahi Glass (AGC) and Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) and Germany's Schott AG were fined over €128 million for operating a cartel that ultimately affected consumers in Europe. The fine on all three companies includes a reduction of 10% for acknowledging their participation in the cartel, thereby helping the Commission to conclude the case more rapidly. Samsung Corning Precision Materials (SCP) of Korea was granted full immunity for being the first to provide information about the cartel.
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  • Commission confirms inspections in suspected cartel in the sector of Euro interest rate derivatives
    19 October 2011
    Starting on 18 October 2011, Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the markets for financial derivative products linked to the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR) in several Member States.
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Mergers

  • Commission gives clears joint venture between Aéroports de Paris and Aelia
    21 October 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by the French companies Aéroports de Paris and Aelia of a controlling interest in a new joint venture combining the business of Duty Free Paris ("DFP") and Société de Distribution Aéroportuaire SAS ("SDA") as well as the "fashion and accessories" business of Duty Free Associates SAS ("DFA") at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports. The Commission concluded that the prposed transaction will not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are only very limited overlaps between the parties' activities.
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  • Commission approves acquisition of German genset manufacturer MWM by Caterpillar
    19 October 2011
    The Commission has cleared US company Caterpillar's proposed acquisition of MWM, a German maker of reciprocating engine generator sets, or gensets, used for decentralised electricity production. The Commission's investigation found that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, because the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of players in Europe and worldwide.
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  • Commission clears proposed acquisition of Samsung's hard disk drive business by Seagate Technology
    19 October 2011
    After an in-depth investigation, the Commission has approved the acquisition of the hard disk drive (HDD) business of Samsung Electronics of Korea by Seagate Technology of the US. HDDs are data storage devices used in computers, laptops or camcorders. Although the merger will further consolidate markets that are already highly concentrated, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, because several other strong players remain in the markets and customers will retain sufficient possibilities to switch suppliers.
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  • Commission clears CVC's purchase of a controlling stake in fitness centre operator Virgin Active Group
    14 October 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of a controlling stake in Virgin Active Group, a UK-based operator of health and fitness centres, by the investment group CVC of Luxembourg. The Commission found that the proposed transaction does not give rise to competition concerns, because there are no horizontal overlaps between the parties' activities and only limited vertical links on mainly national markets, where the parties have low market shares.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission refers France to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from Arbel Fauvet Rail
    19 October 2011
    The Commission has referred France to the European Court of Justice for not complying with a decision of June 2010 finding preferential interest rates on loans for Arbel Fauvet Rail incompatible with EU state aid rules and ordering France to recover the difference between the terms at which they were granted and the then market rates. To date, France has not recovered the aid.
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  • Commission refers Italy to Court for failure to recover aid from shipping companies in Sardinia
    19 October 2011
    The Commission has referred Italy to the European Court of Justice for failing to comply with a Commission decision of 2007 finding loans on preferential terms for Sardinian shipping companies incompatible with EU state aid rules and ordering Italy to recover the difference between the terms at which they were granted and the then market rates. To date, Italy has not recovered the aid.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears French support scheme for ultra fast broadband networks
    19 October 2011
    The Commission has approved support of around €750 million for the deployment of very high speed broadband networks in France. The Commission concluded that the scheme was in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because the aid will be granted through public tenders only for areas where no comparable networks currently exist and because the subsidized network will be open to all interested users.
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  • Commission temporarily approves rescue aid for Dexia Bank Belgium; opens in-depth investigation
    17 October 2011
    The Commission has temporarily approved the sale of Dexia Bank Belgium (DBB) to the Belgian State for €4 billion. The Commission acknowledges that the measure is necessary to preserve financial stability. However, at this stage, the Commission is not able to conclude whether the acquisition complies with EU state aid rules and has therefore opened an in-depth investigation. Belgium has six months to notify a new restructuring plan for the bank.
    Read more >

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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, 2011. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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