Competition weekly news summary
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The next weekly news summary will be delivered on 13 January 2012. We wish you a merry Christmas and a peaceful new year.

Conferences and Speeches

  • Reform of the State aid rules for Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) and decisions on WestLB, Bank of Ireland and France Telecom
    Press conference, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    20 December 2011
    "The new SGEI package follows three objectives: clarification, simplification, and a focus on services that receive big amounts of money and have a greater potential to distort the conditions of competition in the single market."
    Read full speech >

Competition

  • Commission publishes extended issue of ECN Brief on food & retail
    16 December 2011
    The Food & Retail sector is high on the agendas of the ECN members. Both food consumer prices and the good performance of the food supply chain are of direct consequence to all EU consumers. This issue of the ECN Brief reports about recent activities of the ECN members in the food & retail sector.
    Read full ECN brief >

Antitrust

  • Commission confirms unannounced inspections in TAP-Brussels Airlines cooperation investigation
    19 December 2011
    On 13 December 2011, Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of Brussels Airlines and TAP Portugal in Belgium and Portugal. Earlier this year the Commission had started proceedings into the possible effects for consumers of code-sharing agreements between the two airlines. The Commission has concerns that the agreements may go further than the sale of seats on routes where the two companies are expected to compete, itself already a departure from the more common form of code-sharing in the industry whereby an airline sells seats on a partner's flights on routes it does not operate itself.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission approves creation of a joint venture between HBO and Ziggo in the Netherlands
    21 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed creation of HBO Nederland Coöperatief, a joint venture to be controlled by Home Box Office Inc of the US and Ziggo B.V. of the Netherlands. The proposed joint venture will develop and operate new pay-TV channels in the Netherlands only. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction will not raise competition concerns on any of the markets concerned; on the contrary, the proposed transaction will increase competition in the acquisition of pay-TV content and in the wholesale of pay-TV channels in the Netherlands.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of Spicers' office supplies business in continental Europe by rival Unipapel
    21 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Spicers' business of office supplies in continental Europe by the Spanish company Unipapel. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns because of sufficient competitive constraint on all markets where the merged entity will operate.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of sports marketing group Infront by Bridgepoint
    20 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Infront Sports and Media AG of Switzerland by private equity Bridgepoint Capital Group Limited of the United Kingdom. The Commission concluded that the transaction will not raise competition concerns given the limited overlaps between the parties' activities and the presence of sufficient alternative suppliers for customers in all markets concerned.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves creation of joint venture in Belgium between Volkswagen Financial Services and D’Ieteren
    20 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the creation of a joint venture between Volkswagen Financial Services AG and the Belgian company D'Ieteren for the provision of financial services related to the sale of VW group vehicles on the Belgian market. The Commission concluded that the creation of the joint venture would not raise competition concerns because it will not significantly alter the market structures and the merged entity will face competition from other players.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of Spanish baking wholesaler Panrico by investment manager Oaktree
    19 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the Spanish supplier of the baking industry Panrico by US based alternative investment manager Oaktree. The Commission found that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because there are no overlaps between the parties' activities.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition by Volkswagen of KPI Polska, Skoda Auto Polska, VW Bank Polska and VW Leasing Polska
    19 December 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by Volkswagen AG of the exclusive importers and distributors of its passenger car and light commercial vehicle brands in Poland (KPI Polska and Skoda Auto Polska) as well as two other Polish businesses providing financial and insurance services relating to these activities. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not lead to any significant change in the structure of the markets in Poland and would therefore not raise competition concerns.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission temporarily approves guarantees on the refinancing of Dexia and DCL and opens in-depth investigation
    21 December 2011
    The Commission has temporarily authorised a temporary guarantee on the refinancing of Dexia SA and its subsidiary Dexia Crédit Local (DCL), for a maximum capital value of €45 billion. This temporary guarantee, extended by Belgium (60.5%), France (36.5%) and Luxembourg (3%), is joint and non-several. It covers the bank refinancing measures with a maturity of a maximum of three years and was issued until 31 May 2012. The purpose of the guarantee is to enable the bank to draw up a restructuring plan, or – should Dexia SA prove not to be viable – a liquidation plan, which the three Member States undertake to submit to the Commission within three months from today.
    Read more >
  • Commission adopts new rules on services of general economic interest
    20 December 2011
    After extensive public consultations, the Commission has adopted a revised package of EU state aid rules for the assessment of public compensation for services of general economic interest (SGEI). The new package clarifies key state aid principles and introduces a diversified and proportionate approach with simpler rules for SGEIs that are small, local in scope or pursue a social objective, while better taking account of competition considerations for large cases.
    Read more >
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  • Commission refers Italy to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from Ixfin
    20 December 2011
    The Commission has referred Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for not complying with a Commission decision of October 2009 finding that Ixfin S.p.A., a company active in contract manufacturing and logistics, had received unlawful state aid and needed to repay it. To date, Italy has not recovered the aid from Ixfin, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since 2006.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves second restructuring plan of Bank of Ireland
    20 December 2011
    The Commission found the second restructuring plan of Bank of Ireland (BoI) to be in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the plan contains a major restructuring effort ensuring that BoI will refocus its business model and will considerably reduce its dependence on wholesale funding. The plan ensures a sustainable future for the bank without continued state support and includes appropriate measures to minimise distortion of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves financing of retirement pensions of public-service employees working for France Telecom subject to certain conditions
    20 December 2011
    After an in-depth investigation, the Commission found that a scheme for financing the retirement pensions of France Télécom’s public service employees was, to date, compatible with EU state aid rules, in particular because the reduction in pension contributions was offset by a €5.7 billion cash payment from France Télécom to the French State. This decision is conditional upon the calculation for France Telecom's contribution to be brought fully into line with that of its competitors from July 2012.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears aid for the creation of Big Society Capital
    20 December 2011
    The Commission has approved support measures of up to GBP 400 million to be provided by the United Kingdom for the creation of social investment company Big Society Capital (BSC). The object of BSC is to invest in social companies, mainly Social Investment Finance Intermediaries (SIFIs) that have difficulties in procuring affordable funding from the markets. The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because BSC's business model contains a number of safeguards to ensure that its investments do not distort competition at the level of the SIFIs. Moreover, SIFIs are required to re-invest the capital by lending to frontline social sector organisations under strict conditions, to avoid crowding out private investors and distorting competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves split-up of WestLB
    20 December
    The Commission has approved the split-up of Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB), which will lead to the sale and eventual winding down of its banking activities. According to the restructuring plan, submitted by the German government with the agreement of the shareholders, the so-called Verbundbank activities will be carved out in order to accommodate the Verbundbank. On 30 June 2012, all assets and liabilities not carved out to the Verbundbank or sold will be transferred to the EAA. After 30 June 2012, WestLB will not engage in new banking business and will be transformed into a servicing platform including a run-down vehicle that holds legacy positions transferred to or hedged by EAA. A reduced number of employees will continue in the asset management and servicing company.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Irish resolution scheme for credit unions
    20 December 2011
    The Commission found a resolution scheme for distressed credit unions in Ireland to be in line with EU rules that allow aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. In particular, the measure is limited in time and scope, ensures adequate burden-sharing and contains safeguards to avoid undue distortions of competition.
    Read more >

Court

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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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