Competition weekly news summary
27 July 2012

Conferences and Speeches

  • Statement on Antitrust and State aid issues
    Press conference, Berlaymont press room, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    25 July 2012
    "The 2009 Commission's Pharmaceutical sector inquiry has shown that there are significant competition issues in the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, certain business practices delay the market entry of cheaper generic medicines. [...] European citizens need to be able to access quality healthcare at affordable prices. [...] Protecting intellectual property is key to preserving incentives to innovate, but it should not be abused to deprive citizens and taxpayers of the benefits of cheaper generic medicines. For these reasons, we remain particularly vigilant about patent settlement agreements between originator and generic companies."
    Read full speech >

Antitrust

  • Commission enforcement action in pharmaceutical sector following sector inquiry
    25 July 2012
    Following its competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector of 2008/2009, the Commission has issued a statement of objections against Lundbeck and other pharmaceutical companies in a major investigation concerning citalopram, an antidepressant. At the same time the Commission's 3rd report on its monitoring of patent settlements in the pharmaceutical sector confirmed that, while the overall number of concluded settlements has significantly increased, the proportion of settlements that may be problematic for competition has fallen by half as compared to the levels observed at the time of the sector inquiry.
    Read more on competition in the pharma sector>
    Read more on Lundbeck SO >
  • Commission sends Statement of Objections to suspected participants in a cartel for the supply of computer CD and DVD drives
    24 July 2012
    The Commission has informed thirteen companies supplying optical disk drives in the European Economic Area (EEA) of its preliminary view that they may have infringed EU antitrust rules by participating in a worldwide cartel. Optical disk drives read or write data on CDs and DVDs. The Commission has concerns that those suppliers may have coordinated their behaviour in bidding events organised by two major original equipment manufacturers for optical disk drives used in personal computers (desktops and notebooks) and in servers.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission approves acquisition of French automotive supplier FDI's motorised vehicles business by rival Delphi
    27 July 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the motorised vehicles business of FCI (FCI MVL) of France by Delphi Holding Luxembourg. Both parties produce connectors used in motorised vehicles. The Commission found that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of aviation equipment company Goodrich by rival United Technologies, subject to conditions
    26 July 2012
    Following an in-depth investigation, the Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Goodrich Corporation by United Technologies Corporation (UTC), both US-based companies active in the production and sale of aviation equipment on a worldwide basis. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of Goodrich's businesses in electrical power generation (AC) and in engine controls for small engines. It is also subject to Rolls Royce being granted an option to acquire Goodrich's lean burn fuel nozzle R&D project.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of part of French insurance company Gan Eurocourtage by rival Allianz of Germany
    24 July 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of a non-life insurance portfolio belonging to the French insurance company Gan Eurocourtage SA by the French subsidiary of the German Allianz group. The portfolio comprises insurance contracts and related brokerage businesses, assets and liabilities. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of NDS by Cisco in pay-TV sector
    24 July 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the UK-based NDS Group, which provides technology and software to the pay-TV sector, by the internet company Cisco Systems of the US. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of strong competitors and that customers, namely pay-TV providers, would continue to have alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of Plastal France by Faurecia in automotive supply sector
    23 July 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Plastal, a French subsidiary of the Swedish Plastal group, by Faurecia, controlled by PSA Peugeot Citroën of France. Both companies are suppliers to the automotive sector. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because the merged entity will continue to face a sufficient competitive constraint.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves joint venture of Tauron and KGHM in Polish electricity sector
    23 July 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed creation of a joint venture by the electricity producer Tauron Wytwarzanie and the copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz, both of Poland. The joint venture will construct and operate a new 850 MW gas-fired power plant in Poland. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, since the market share of the newly created entity would be limited and it would face a number of credible competitors on the Polish electricity markets.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission temporarily approves aid to Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank, Piraeus Bank and National Bank of Greece; opens in-depth investigations
    27 July 2012
    The Commission has temporarily approved a bridge recapitalisation provided by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) in favour of Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank, Piraeus Bank and National Bank of Greece, for reasons of financial stability. At the same time, the Commission has opened four in-depth investigations to examine whether the measure is in line with its rules on state aid for banks during the crisis.
    Read more >
  • Commission temporarily approves aid for Greek Nea Proton Bank and opens in-depth investigation
    27 July 2012
    The Commission has temporarily approved €1.7 billion of public support granted in the context of the resolution of the Greek Proton Bank. The Commission has temporarily approved the measure until it reaches a final decision on the restructuring plan of Nea Proton Bank, the new legal entity created by the operation. At the same time, the Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the measure is in line with EU state aid rules.
    Read more >
  • Commission invites comments on rules applying to small aid amounts
    26 July 2012
    In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative, the Commission has launched a review of its Regulation applying to small aid amounts (the "de minimis" Regulation). Under this Regulation, aid measures below €200 000 are outside the scope of EU state aid control and therefore do not require prior Commission approval. The first step of the review process is a public consultation, focused on public authorities' and stakeholders' experience with the current Regulation. In light of the contributions received, the Commission will prepare a revised draft regulation by the end of 2013.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring aid to BayernLB subject to repayment of €5 billion of aid
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has approved restructuring aid for the German bank BayernLB in the form of a capital injection of €10 billion, a risk shield of €4.8 billion and liquidity guarantees. The approval is based on commitments presented by Germany to fundamentally restructure the bank and on the condition that BayernLB repays €5 billion of state aid in the next seven years. The Commission concluded that the restructuring plan would enable the bank to become viable without continued state support and provided for a sufficient contribution by the bank's owners to the cost of restructuring, while minimising distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring aid for German bank NORD/LB
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has concluded that around €3.3 billion of restructuring aid granted to the German Landesbank NORD/LB to meet its capital requirements are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the restructuring plan submitted by the German authorities ensures that the bank is viable, that the public authorities that granted the aid receive adequate remuneration for it and that the bank uses the public support to strengthen its capital in the coming years by not paying dividends to shareholders and not making acquisitions.
    Read more >
  • Commission finds sale of Dexia BIL contains no state aid
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has concluded that the sale of Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (Dexia BIL) did not involve state aid in the meaning of the EU rules and closed its in-depth investigation opened in April. The Commission found, in particular, that the sales price was in line with the market.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring aid for the sale of Spanish UNNIM Banc SAU to BBVA
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has concluded that restructuring aid granted by Spain to UNNIM Banc SAU (UNNIM) in the context of the sale of its banking activities to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that UNNIM's restructuring plan adequately addresses the structural problems that led to the bail-out of the bank, whilst avoiding undue distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission adopts three decisions in aviation sector in Finland, Greece and Ireland
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has concluded that financial arrangements between the airport of Tampere Pirkkala in Finland and Ryanair do not constitute state aid in the meaning of EU rules because they are in line with market terms. In another case, the Commission has found investment aid in favour of the Chania airport in Greece to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it is well-targeted and proportionate to the objective pursued. In a third decision, the Commission ordered Ireland to recover incompatible state aid in the form of preferential airport taxes for certain short-haul destinations from the airlines that had benefitted from this measure, as they distorted competition between airlines.
    Read more >
    Details on the Tampere Pirkkala decision >
  • Commission gives conditional approval to €31 million aid for FagorBrandt
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has approved €31 million restructuring aid for the French household appliances group FagorBrandt, subject to certain conditions. Following the annulment of its 2008 decision, authorising the aid, by the EU Court of Justice, the Commission re-examined the case in the light of the Court's judgment and set stricter conditions for approval of the aid. FagorBrandt will be banned from marketing products under the Vedette brand for an additional three years, until the end of 2016. In addition, it must increase its contribution to the restructuring costs to take into account the cumulative effect of earlier state aid. Provided these two conditions are complied with, the aid meets the criteria laid down in the guidelines on state aid for firms in difficulty. It does not, therefore, distort the conditions of competition in the internal market to an extent contrary to the common interest.
    Read more >
  • Commission requests Ireland to end unlimited guarantee for Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI)
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has proposed appropriate measures to Ireland to abolish the unlimited state guarantee enjoyed by the Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI) by the end of 2013. VHI is a statutory body offering voluntary health insurance. Its statute does not provide for liquidation or winding up, with the consequence that VHI cannot go bankrupt. As a result, its creditworthiness is improved, providing VHI with an undue financial advantage over its competitors. If no agreement is reached on the proposed measures within one month, the Commission may open a state aid investigation.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Austrian aid scheme for rail freight transport
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has authorised an Austrian aid scheme to support freight rail transport with a total budget of €1 118 million in the period 2012 to 2017. The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules mainly because it creates a level playing field for competition between rail freight and road freight transport by allowing the state to compensate rail freight companies for additional costs faced by rail transport but not by road transport. This will ensure a higher level of frail freight transport without unduly distorting competition, in line with the EU's transport and state aid policies.
    Read more >
  • Commission finds the loan by Poland for Crist Shipyard is not aid
    25 July 2012
    After an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that a PLN 150 million loan (around € 37,5 million) granted by the State-owned Polish Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to Crist Shipyard was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the loan was granted on market terms and therefore did not give Crist an undue economic advantage. As a result, the loan does not constitute state aid in the meaning of the EU rules.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into Maltese tonnage tax scheme
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the Maltese tonnage tax scheme is compatible with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the favourable tax treatment allowed by the EU maritime guidelines may have been extended to categories of beneficiaries that are not suffering from the handicaps targetted by the guidelines and are therefore not entitled to lower taxes.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into Italian broadband project in Trentino
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has opened an in-depth inquiry to investigate whether a joint venture between the Italian Province of Trento and the Italian telecommunications operator Telecom Italia to build a fibre infrastructure is in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has doubts whether the project is carried out on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Spanish recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions
    25 July 2012
    The Commission has approved until 31 December 2012 a new Spanish scheme aimed at strengthening the capital basis of credit institutions. The scheme will provide state support to banks which need to cover short-term capital needs following the stress test currently being conducted under the Memorandum of Understanding on Financial Sector Policy Conditionality (MoU). In addition, the scheme serves as a backstop facility for banks with urgent capital needs materialising before the stress test is completed. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with its rules on state support to banks during the crisis because it is limited in time and scope and contains exit incentives.
    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.

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