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Automobiles: WTO Panel Delivers First Ever Ruling Against
Mergers: Commission Approves Spirits Acquisition, Subject to Conditions
The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the Swedish State-owned company, V&S Vin & Sprit, by Pernod Ricard of France. Both companies are active in the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages. The Commission's investigation identified competition concerns in a number of national markets where the merged entity would have a strong market position, namely: (i) aniseed flavoured spirits in Finland; (ii) vodka in Greece; (iii) gin in Poland and Sweden; and (iv) cognac, port and Canadian whisky in Sweden. In order to address these concerns, Pernod Ricard offered to divest its business conducted under a number of brands in those markets. Having analysed these commitments, the Commission concluded that they would remedy its concerns and effective competition would not be impeded.
State Aid: Commission Declares Alitalia Loan Illegal
Energy: ECJ Rules Spanish Energy Merger Restrictions Illegal
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Spain infringed European Community law by requiring that mergers and acquisitions in Spain’s energy sector be approved in advance by the Spanish National Energy Commission (NEC). The system of prior notification, introduced in 2006, was applied controversially when the NEC blocked a takeover bid for Spanish energy company Endesa by E.ON, a German energy group—a move widely viewed as protectionist. The ECJ ruled that Spain’s prior notification system infringes EC Treaty rules on the free movement of capital and freedom of establishment because it is likely to deter investors located in other Member States from acquiring interests in Spanish energy entities. Moreover, the ECJ ruled that the prior notification system was not justified by—or proportionate to—any overriding public interest concerns, such as security of energy supply.
Mergers: Commission Opens Second Phase Investigation into Dairy Products Deal
The European Commission has opened a second phase, in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between Dutch dairy companies Campina and Friesland Foods. Campina and Friesland are both active in, among other things, the procurement and processing of raw milk and the development, production and sale of consumer dairy products and industrial dairy and non-dairy products. Both companies are active in The Netherlands and other EU Member States and, according to the Commission, are each other’s closest competitors in fresh dairy products, cheese and other consumer and industrial products. The Commission is concerned that the merger could substantially reduce competition and create a dominant market player in a number of dairy markets and also create supply problems for competitors. The Commission now has 90 working days to take a final decision as to whether the merger will substantially impede competition in the EU Single Market.
Competition: Supplementary Statement of Objections for Intel
Intel has received a supplementary Statement of Objections (SSO) from the European Commission, adding to the abuse of dominance allegations made in a Statement of Objections (SO) issued in July 2007. The SSO introduces three allegations that Intel abused its dominant position on the market for x86 Central Processing Units (CPUs), namely: (i) that Intel provided rebates to a leading PC retailer on the condition that it sold only Intel-based PCs; (ii) that Intel made payments to induce a leading original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to delay the launch of a product containing a rival CPU from its competitor AMD; and (iii) that Intel subsequently provided rebates to that same OEM on the condition that it obtained all its CPUs from Intel. Intel has eight weeks to reply to the SSO.
VAT: ECJ Declares Italian Tax Amnesty Unlawful
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found that
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 28 July – Friday 1 August 2008
No Council meetings scheduled for next week.
COURT OF JUSTICE
Judicial vacation of the Court of Justice from 14 July 2008 to 31 August 2008 inclusive.
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
Judicial vacation of the Court of First Instance from 14 July 2008 to 31 August 2008 inclusive.