ISSN 1725-2423

doi:10.3000/17252423.C_2009.147.eng

Official Journal

of the European Union

C 147

European flag  

English edition

Information and Notices

Volume 52
27 June 2009


Notice No

Contents

page

 

II   Information

 

INFORMATION FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS AND BODIES

 

Commission

2009/C 147/01

Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty — Cases where the Commission raises no objections ( 1 )

1

2009/C 147/02

Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty — Cases where the Commission raises no objections

5

2009/C 147/03

Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty — Cases where the Commission raises no objections ( 1 )

6

2009/C 147/04

Non-opposition to a notified concentration (Case COMP/M.5508 — Soffin/Hypo Real Estate) ( 1 )

8

2009/C 147/05

Non-opposition to a notified concentration (Case COMP/M.5523 — CVC/The Belgian State/De Post-La Poste) ( 1 )

8

2009/C 147/06

Non-opposition to a notified concentration (Case COMP/M.5484 — SGL Carbon/Brembo/BCBS/JV) ( 1 )

9

2009/C 147/07

Non-opposition to a notified concentration (Case COMP/M.5320 — Almeco/Mage/Tinox) ( 1 )

9

 

IV   Notices

 

NOTICES FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS AND BODIES

 

Commission

2009/C 147/08

Euro exchange rates

10

2009/C 147/09

Opinion of the Advisory Committee on Mergers given at its meeting of 16 April 2008 regarding a draft decision relating to Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards — Rapporteur: UK

11

2009/C 147/10

Final report of the Hearing Officer in Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards (Pursuant to Articles 15 and 16 of Commission Decision (2001/462/EC, ECSC) of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)

13

2009/C 147/11

Summary of Commission Decision of 5 May 2008 declaring a concentration compatible with the common market and the functioning of the EEA Agreement (Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards) ( 1 )

14

2009/C 147/12

Opinion of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions given at its 382nd meeting on 18 October 2004 concerning a preliminary draft decision in Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles

19

2009/C 147/13

Opinion of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions given at its 383rd meeting on 25 October 2004 concerning a preliminary draft decision in Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles

20

2009/C 147/14

Final report of the hearing officer on the procedure in the Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles (Pursuant to Article 15 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of hearing officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)

21

2009/C 147/15

Summary of Commission Decision of 26 October 2004 relating to a proceeding under Article 81 of the EC Treaty (Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles) (notified under document number C(2004) 4221)  ( 1 )

23

 

V   Announcements

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES

 

Council

2009/C 147/16

Open call — European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST)

26

 

PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPETITION POLICY

 

Commission

2009/C 147/17

Prior notification of a concentration (Case COMP/M.5562 — Fortis Private Equity/Kuiken) — Candidate case for simplified procedure ( 1 )

28

 


 

(1)   Text with EEA relevance

EN

 


II Information

INFORMATION FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS AND BODIES

Commission

27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/1


Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty

Cases where the Commission raises no objections

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/01

Date of adoption of the decision

24.11.2008

Reference number of State aid

NN 68/08

Member State

Latvia

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Public support measures to JSC Parex Banka

Legal basis

Law on Budget and Financial Management

Type of measure

Individual aid

Objective

Aid to remedy serious disturbances in the economy

Form of aid

Guarantee, Other forms of equity intervention, Soft loan

Budget

Overall budget: LVL 945 million

Intensity

100 %

Duration (period)

11.11.2008-11.5.2009

Economic sectors

Financial intermediation

Name and address of the granting authority

Ministry of Finance

Smilšu 1

Rīga, LV-1919

LATVIJA

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm

Date of adoption of the decision

21.4.2009

Reference number of State aid

N 664/08

Member State

Hungary

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Support measure for the banking industry in Hungary

Legal basis

Reinforcement of the Stability of the Financial Intermediary System (2008. évi CIV. törvény a pénzügyi közvetítőrendszer stabilitásának erősítéséről)

Type of measure

Aid scheme

Objective

Aid to remedy serious disturbances in the economy

Form of aid

Guarantee, Recapitalisation

Budget

Overall budget: HUF 300 billion for the recapitalisation and HUF 1 500 billion for the guarantee

Intensity

Duration (period)

Recapitalisation: 31 March 2009

Guarantee measure: 30 June 2009

Economic sectors

Financial intermediation

Name and address of the granting authority

Ministry of Finance

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm

Date of adoption of the decision

11.2.2009

Reference number of State aid

NN 3/09

Member State

Latvia

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Amendments to the Public support measures to JSC Parex Banka

Legal basis

The Government Regulation ‘Issuing and supervision of guarantees for bank loans’, Law on Bank takeover, Parex investment agreement, Individual decision taken by the Government

Type of measure

Individual aid

Objective

Aid to remedy serious disturbances in the economy

Form of aid

Guarantee, other forms of equity intervention, soft loan

Budget

Overall budget: LVL 2 245 million

Intensity

Duration (period)

11.11.2008-11.5.2009

Economic sectors

Financial intermediation

Name and address of the granting authority

Ministry of Finance

Smilšu 1

Rīga, LV-1919

LATVIJA

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm

Date of adoption of the decision

21.4.2009

Reference number of State aid

N 232/09

Member State

United Kingdom

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Assets Backed Securities Scheme

Legal basis

Section 228 of the Banking Act 2009

Type of measure

Aid scheme

Objective

Aid to remedy serious disturbances in the economy

Form of aid

Guarantee

Budget

Overall budget: EUR 50 000 million

Intensity

Duration (period)

until 22.11.2009

Economic sectors

Financial intermediation

Name and address of the granting authority

HM Treasury

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ

UNITED KINGDOM

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm

Date of adoption of the decision

7.5.2009

Reference number of State aid

N 244/09

Member State

Germany

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Commerzbank

Legal basis

Gesetz sur Errichtung eines Sonderfonds Finanzmarktstabilisierung

Type of measure

Aid scheme

Objective

Aid to remedy serious disturbances in the economy

Form of aid

Direct grant

Budget

Overall budget: EUR 1 820 million

Intensity

Duration (period)

Economic sectors

Financial intermediation

Name and address of the granting authority

Sonderfonds Finanzmarktstabilisierung (SoFFin)

Finanzmarktstabilisierungsanstalt

Taunusanlage 6

60329 Frankfurt am Main

DEUTSCHLAND

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/5


Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty

Cases where the Commission raises no objections

2009/C 147/02

Date of adoption of the decision

8.4.2009

Reference number of State Aid

N 147/09

Member State

United Kingdom

Region

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Pigmeat processors hardship assistance (Northern Ireland)

Legal basis

The Budget Act (Northern Ireland) 2009;

European Communities Act 1972;

The Industrial Development (Northern Ireland) Order 1982;

Industrial Development Act (Northern Ireland) 2002.

Type of measure

Compensation to remedy the consequences of an exceptional occurrence (Article 87(2)(b) of the Treaty)

Objective

Public health and prevention of collapse of the market and consumer trust in the market. Recall and destruction of Irish pig meat products after dioxin contamination in Ireland due to contamination of animal feed.

Form of aid

Direct grant and subsidised services

Budget

Around GBP 7 million

Intensity

Up to 100 %

Duration (period)

Applications may be lodged 13.3.2009-31.3.2009. It is anticipated that no payments will be made after 31 December 2009.

Economic sectors

Agriculture

Name and address of the granting authority

Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment for Northern Ireland

Netherleigh Massey Avenue

Belfast

BT4 2JP

Northern Ireland

UNITED KINGDOM

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/6


Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty

Cases where the Commission raises no objections

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/03

Date of adoption of the decision

24.3.2009

Reference number of State Aid

N 500/08

Member State

Slovakia

Region

Západné Slovensko

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Pomoc pre Baňu Čáry a.s. (ťažba lignitu)

Legal basis

Zákon NR SR č. 523/2004 Z. z. o rozpočtových pravidlách verejnej správy a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov v znení neskorších predpisov, Smernica MH SR č. 6/2005 o pravidlách hospodárenia s rozpočtovými prostriedkami v kapitole Ministerstva hospodárstva v znení neskorších predpisov, Zákon NR SR č. 231/1999 Z. z. o štátnej pomoci v znení neskorších predpisov, Výnosy MH SR č. 1/2005, 3/2005 a 5/2005 o poskytovaní dotácií v pôsobnosti Ministerstva hospodárstva SR

Type of measure

Individual aid

Objective

Regional development

Form of aid

Direct grant

Budget

Overall budget: EUR 3,85 million

Intensity

30 %

Duration (period)

Economic sectors

Mining and quarrying

Name and address of the granting authority

Ministerstvo hospodárstva SR

Mierová 19

827 15 Bratislava

SLOVENSKO/SLOVAKIA

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm

Date of adoption of the decision

13.5.2009

Reference number of State Aid

N 98/09

Member State

Sweden

Region

Stockholms Laen, Norrbottens Laen, Kalmar Laen

Title (and/or name of the beneficiary)

Utbildningsstöd till Scania

Legal basis

Nationellt strukturfondsprogram för regional konkurrenskraft och sysselsättning (ESF) 2007-2013 (CCI-nummer 2007SE052PO001). Beslut av Svenska ESF-rådet, Stockholm, den 2 februari 2009, see ‘bilaga B’.

Type of measure

Individual aid

Objective

Training

Form of aid

Direct grant

Budget

Annual budget: SEK 123,5 million; Overall budget: SEK 123,5 million

Intensity

53 %

Duration (period)

1.5.2009-1.11.2009

Economic sectors

Motor vehicles

Name and address of the granting authority

Svenska ESF-rådet

Box 220 80

SE-104 22 Stockholm

SVERIGE

Other information

The authentic text(s) of the decision, from which all confidential information has been removed, can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/state_aids/index.htm


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/8


Non-opposition to a notified concentration

(Case COMP/M.5508 — Soffin/Hypo Real Estate)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/04

On 14 May 2009, the Commission decided not to oppose the above notified concentration and to declare it compatible with the common market. This decision is based on Article 6(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004. The full text of the decision is available only in English and will be made public after it is cleared of any business secrets it may contain. It will be available:

in the merger section of the Competition website of the Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/mergers/cases/). This website provides various facilities to help locate individual merger decisions, including company, case number, date and sectoral indexes,

in electronic form on the EUR-Lex website (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm) under document number 32009M5508. EUR-Lex is the on-line access to the European law.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/8


Non-opposition to a notified concentration

(Case COMP/M.5523 — CVC/The Belgian State/De Post-La Poste)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/05

On 19 June 2009, the Commission decided not to oppose the above notified concentration and to declare it compatible with the common market. This decision is based on Article 6(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004. The full text of the decision is available only in English and will be made public after it is cleared of any business secrets it may contain. It will be available:

in the merger section of the Competition website of the Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/mergers/cases/). This website provides various facilities to help locate individual merger decisions, including company, case number, date and sectoral indexes,

in electronic form on the EUR-Lex website (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm) under document number 32009M5523. EUR-Lex is the on-line access to the European law.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/9


Non-opposition to a notified concentration

(Case COMP/M.5484 — SGL Carbon/Brembo/BCBS/JV)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/06

On 27 May 2009, the Commission decided not to oppose the above notified concentration and to declare it compatible with the common market. This decision is based on Article 6(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004. The full text of the decision is available only in English and will be made public after it is cleared of any business secrets it may contain. It will be available:

in the merger section of the Competition website of the Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/mergers/cases/). This website provides various facilities to help locate individual merger decisions, including company, case number, date and sectoral indexes,

in electronic form on the EUR-Lex website (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm) under document number 32009M5484. EUR-Lex is the on-line access to the European law.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/9


Non-opposition to a notified concentration

(Case COMP/M.5320 — Almeco/Mage/Tinox)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/07

On 18 June 2009, the Commission decided not to oppose the above notified concentration and to declare it compatible with the common market. This decision is based on Article 6(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004. The full text of the decision is available only in English and will be made public after it is cleared of any business secrets it may contain. It will be available:

in the merger section of the Competition website of the Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/mergers/cases/). This website provides various facilities to help locate individual merger decisions, including company, case number, date and sectoral indexes,

in electronic form on the EUR-Lex website (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm) under document number 32009M5320. EUR-Lex is the on-line access to the European law.


IV Notices

NOTICES FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS AND BODIES

Commission

27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/10


Euro exchange rates (1)

26 June 2009

2009/C 147/08

1 euro =


 

Currency

Exchange rate

USD

US dollar

1,4096

JPY

Japanese yen

134,50

DKK

Danish krone

7,4464

GBP

Pound sterling

0,85430

SEK

Swedish krona

10,9595

CHF

Swiss franc

1,5275

ISK

Iceland króna

 

NOK

Norwegian krone

9,0400

BGN

Bulgarian lev

1,9558

CZK

Czech koruna

25,998

EEK

Estonian kroon

15,6466

HUF

Hungarian forint

275,30

LTL

Lithuanian litas

3,4528

LVL

Latvian lats

0,6990

PLN

Polish zloty

4,4945

RON

Romanian leu

4,2174

TRY

Turkish lira

2,1645

AUD

Australian dollar

1,7457

CAD

Canadian dollar

1,6168

HKD

Hong Kong dollar

10,9245

NZD

New Zealand dollar

2,1795

SGD

Singapore dollar

2,0493

KRW

South Korean won

1 805,28

ZAR

South African rand

11,1439

CNY

Chinese yuan renminbi

9,6329

HRK

Croatian kuna

7,2860

IDR

Indonesian rupiah

14 407,13

MYR

Malaysian ringgit

4,9794

PHP

Philippine peso

67,921

RUB

Russian rouble

43,8580

THB

Thai baht

47,997

BRL

Brazilian real

2,7210

MXN

Mexican peso

18,5461

INR

Indian rupee

67,8020


(1)  Source: reference exchange rate published by the ECB.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/11


Opinion of the Advisory Committee on Mergers given at its meeting of 16 April 2008 regarding a draft decision relating to Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards

Rapporteur: UK

2009/C 147/09

1.

The Advisory Committee considers that the transaction constitutes a concentration within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the EC Merger Regulation.

A minority abstains.

2.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the notified operation has a Community dimension within the meaning of Articles 1 and 4 of the EC Merger Regulation.

A minority abstains.

3.

The Advisory Committee agrees that for the purpose of the present case the product market definition should be delineated as follows:

it is appropriate to distinguish various types of ships within the overall commercial shipbuilding sector,

chemical/oil tankers and product tankers should be considered as two separate markets or as a single product market, whereas this question can be left open in this case,

cruise ships and ferries should be considered as two separate product markets or as a single product market, whereas this question can be left open in this case,

the Commission should focus its analysis on cruise ships of over 30 000 gt where Aker Yards is active, whereas it is not necessary for the present case to distinguish different markets for different sizes of cruise ships,

the question whether ship engine manufacturing should be segmented can be left open in this case.

A minority abstains.

4.

The Advisory Committee agrees that for the purpose of the present case the geographic markets for the construction of commercial ships and for the manufacturing of ship engines are world wide.

A minority abstains.

5.

The Advisory Committee agrees that given the absence of horizontal overlaps the proposed transaction will not have as direct result the strengthening of Aker Yard's position in the construction and supply of cruise ships.

A minority abstains.

6.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the elimination of STX as a potential competitor in the construction and supply of cruise ships would not have a significant anti-competitive effect.

A minority abstains.

7.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the financial position of STX is not such as to render the merged entity dominant on the market for construction of cruise ships, regardless of whether the financial instruments mentioned by the complainant constituted past or current subsidies by the South Korean State.

A minority abstains.

8.

The Advisory Committee agrees that even if evidence existed that the merged entity is likely to receive subsidised production financing in the future as alleged by the complainant it is unlikely to significantly increase the financial strength of the merged entity for the reasons elaborated in the decision.

A minority abstains.

9.

The Advisory Committee agrees that for cruise ships, buyers are large and sophisticated and are likely to have, in the current market structure, the ability to mitigate any anti-competitive behaviour post merger.

A minority abstains.

10.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the proposed transaction will not lead to a significant impediment to effective competition for cruise ships and ferries together, and for ferries separately.

A minority abstains.

11.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the proposed transaction will not lead to a significant impediment to effective competition for product tankers.

A minority abstains.

12.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the vertical relationships created by the proposed transaction will not lead to a significant impediment to effective competition in the various markets for commercial vessels, and in the cruise ship and ferries markets in particular.

A minority abstains.

13.

The Advisory Committee agrees that the proposed transaction will not lead to a significant impediment to effective competition in shipping services.

A minority abstains.

14.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the proposed concentration should be declared compatible with the common market and the functioning of the EEA Agreement.

A minority abstains.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/13


Final report of the Hearing Officer in Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards

(Pursuant to Articles 15 and 16 of Commission Decision (2001/462/EC, ECSC) of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)

2009/C 147/10

On 16 November 2007, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration pursuant to Article 4 of the Merger Regulation, by which STX Corporation (‘STX’) would acquire de facto control of the whole of Aker Yards A.S.A. (‘Aker’) by way of purchase of shares.

Competition concerns were raised during the first phase of the investigation into the proposed merger, which caused the Commission to decide, on 20 December 2007, to initiate proceedings pursuant to Article 6(1)(c) of the Merger Regulation.

The notifying party did not request access to key documents in accordance with DG Competition's ‘Best Practices on the conduct of EC merger control proceedings’.

Following the in-depth market investigation, the Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction does not significantly impede effective competition in the common market or in a substantial part of it and is therefore compatible with the common market and the EEA Agreement. Accordingly, no Statement of Objections was sent to the notifying party.

No queries or submissions have been made to me by the merging parties in the course of the procedure.

Derogation Decision

On 5 March 2008, STX requested a derogation from the suspension obligation pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Merger Regulation. On 10 March 2008, STX reiterated the request on the basis of new developments that had taken place since its first request. On 19 March 2008, the Commission granted the requested derogation from the obligations imposed by Article 7(1) of the Merger Regulation, subject to certain conditions.

Request for access to file by third party

On 1 April 2008, a third party, Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali S.p.A (‘Fincantieri’) wrote to the Deputy Director General in DG Competition repeating a request to grant it access to the investigation file. A similar request was sent to me on 9 April 2008 claiming that a refusal was a breach of Fincantieri's right to be heard. By letter of 14 April 2008, the Deputy Director General provided a detailed reasoned response to Fincantieri's letter of 1 April 2008, concluding that, as a third party, Fincantieri was not entitled to access to the investigation file in this case. I also wrote to Fincantieri on 15 April 2008, confirming that the analysis provided by DG Comp was correct. I also confirmed that, in my view, based on the written submissions to and oral contacts held with the Commission services in the course of the procedure, Fincantieri, as an interested third party, had been properly heard in this case.

The case does not call for any further comments as regards the right to be heard.

Brussels, 22 April 2008.

Karen WILLIAMS


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/14


SUMMARY OF COMMISSION DECISION

of 5 May 2008

declaring a concentration compatible with the common market and the functioning of the EEA Agreement

(Case COMP/M.4956 — STX/Aker Yards)

(Only the English version of the decision is authentic)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/11

On 5 May 2008 the Commission adopted a Decision in a merger case under Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings, and in particular Article 8(1) of that Regulation. A non-confidential version of the full Decision can be found in the authentic language of the case and in the working languages of the Commission on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition, at the following address:

http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/index_en.html

This summary only constitutes a simplified outline of the main aspects of the decision; it has no legal force and serves for information purposes only.

I.   INTRODUCTION

1.

On 16 November 2007 the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration by which STX Corporation (‘STX’, South Korea) notified its acquisition of control of Aker Yards A.S.A (‘Aker Yards’, Norway) by way of purchase of shares.

2.

The Commission found that the proposed operation constitutes a concentration within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of Council Regulation No (EC) 139/2004.

3.

STX is a South Korean holding company active in three main areas: shipbuilding and marine equipment (including engines), shipping and logistics and energy and construction. As part of its shipbuilding activity, STX designs and builds various types of commercial vessels. STX currently has two shipyards located in South Korea and another one under construction in China.

4.

Aker Yards is a Norwegian company active in the shipbuilding industry and focused on the construction of sophisticated vessels, including cruise ships and ferries, commercial vessels, offshore production and specialised vessels. Cruise ships and ferries accounted for approximately 44 % of Aker Yards’ total sales in 2006. Aker Yards comprises eighteen ship yards in various European countries, Vietnam and Brazil.

5.

The notified transaction consists of the acquisition by STX of a minority shareholding of 39,2 % in Aker Yards, resulting from a two-day book building process on the Oslo Stock Exchange in the meaning of Article 7.2 of the Merger Regulation. Therefore, the exercise by STX of the voting rights attached to its shares in Aker Yards is subject to the clearance by the European Commission.

6.

Given the shareholding structure of Aker Yards and the exercise of voting rights in the last three shareholders’ meetings, the minority shareholding of 39,2 % is highly likely to allow STX to exercise the majority of the voting rights to acquire effective de facto control of Aker Yards. The transaction therefore constitutes a concentration within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the EC Merger Regulation.

7.

After the examination of the notification, on 20 December 2007, the Commission decided to initiate proceedings pursuant to Article 6(1)(c) of the Merger Regulation.

8.

The Commission concluded that the notified concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the common market or a substantial part thereof, and can therefore be declared compatible with the common market and the EEA agreement. Therefore, it on 5 May 2008 it declared the concentration compatible with the common market pursuant to Article 8(1) of the Merger Regulation and with the EEA Agreement pursuant to Article 57 thereof.

II.   THE RELEVANT MARKETS

A.   Relevant product markets

Commercial shipbuilding

9.

The activities of the parties overlap in the area of shipbuilding of commercial vessels, in the following categories of ships: container ships and liquid natural gas (‘LNG’) carriers (these are both non-affected market), chemical and oil tankers and product tankers. In addition, Aker Yards is a major player in cruise ships and ferries.

Product tankers and chemical/oil tankers

10.

The notifying party submitted that in practice the chemical/oil tankers and product tankers can serve the transportation of several types of substances and therefore they can be considered as a single relevant product market. The investigation has shown a large degree of demand-side substitutability. However, the question whether chemical/oil tankers and product tankers should be considered as forming one single product market or separately can be left open since the transaction does not lead to any competition concerns under either alternative market definition.

Passenger ships

11.

In the decision Aker Yards/Chantiers de l'Atlantique the Commission considered it appropriate to distinguish the market for cruise ships and the market for ferries from the overall commercial shipbuilding market, taking into account both demand and supply side considerations. The notifying party agrees with this distinction. The market investigation has not indicated that the Commission should depart from its previous practice in this respect.

12.

Within the area of cruise ships, the market investigation provided indications that small cruise ships of capacity below 20-30 gt form different market than medium and large size cruise ships of above 30 gt, as already suggested in the above mentioned decision. Aker Yards is only active in the segment above 30 gt, and this market was considered for the competitive assessment of the present case. However, there is no need to ultimately decide on this point as the competitive assessment would not be changed.

13.

For the purposes of the competitive assessment of the present transaction, the following relevant product markets have been considered (i) cruise ships, (ii) ferries and (iii) chemical/oil tankers and product tankers (either considered separately or as one single market).

Ship engine manufacturing

14.

STX is also active in the area of ship engine manufacturing through its subsidiaries Engine Co., Ltd. and STX Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.

15.

According to the notifying party, the market for ship propulsion main engines forms one single product market since in general engines are technically interchangeable for all types of commercial vessels and producers typically manufacture the whole range of marine engines. The only exception mentioned by the notifying party are specific dual fuel engines suited for LNG carriers. The market investigation suggested that ship propulsion engines could be divided in two main categories according to the fuel used for the propulsion: diesel engines and dual fuel engines. In the present case, the exact scope of the product market definition can however be left open.

B.   Relevant geographic markets

16.

The notifying party has submitted that the relevant geographic market for commercial shipbuilding and for ship engines is global in scope. The Commission's market investigation has supported the view expressed by the parties.

III.   COMPETITIVE ASSESSMENT

17.

The main concerns raised during the market investigation were focussed on the impact that the transaction may have on the cruise and ferries markets. These concerns were based on the elimination of STX as a potential entrant and on the advantages that STX would allegedly have compared to other shipbuilders in terms of subsidies granted by the South Korean government, other cost advantages and its vertical integration in the production of ship engines, which may be used by STX to undercut prices, with a result of marginalizing the current competitors and finally leading to anticompetitive effects on the market by the creation of a dominant player. These concerns are dealt with below.

Cruise Ship Market

Elimination of STX as a potential entrant

18.

Based on the investigation it appears that STX is not very advanced in entering the cruise ship market and becoming a significant competitor in the short time. The Commission has been informed during the investigation that STX has participated in a bid for a cruise ship organised by a customer called Saga Lines and this is why in some instances some market participants associate STX with the cruise ship market. However, its participation in that tender is limited to the submission of very initial documents and the aim of participating in the bid is presented rather to be to start learning about the market in view of possible entry in the longer term. The investigation has shown that STX has not participated in any other bid, preliminary contacts or conversations for the construction of a cruise ship, and the market participants generally do not perceive STX as an actual competitor but rather as a potential entrant alongside a number of other Asian shipbuilders. In conclusion, several elements confirm that STX is not better placed than a number of other Asian shipbuilders to enter the market.

19.

Furthermore, the market investigation has shown there is a sufficient number of other potential competitors which are at least equally well placed as STX to enter the cruise ship market, i.e. other shipbuilders from the Far East such as Mitsubishi (Japan) and Korean companies such as Samsung and Daewoo. Mitsubishi has been already active in the recent past and in 2004 it delivered two large cruise ships. The other Korean shipbuilders have until now never been awarded any cruise ship building project (similarly to STX), but the investigation has confirmed that the Korean shipbuilders, especially Samsung and Daewoo, are considered by the market participants as the most credible potential new entrants in the market.

20.

Given that STX does not currently exert any significant competitive constraint in the cruise ship market, that there are no reasons to believe that it would become an effective competitive force in the near future and that, post merger, there will remain a sufficient number of other possible entrants, the proposed concentration would not significantly impede effective competition on the cruise ship market as a result of the elimination of a potential competitor.

Competition concerns on the basis of subsidies

21.

During the market investigation, the complaint was raised that together with a number of other alleged advantages, such as low labour, energy and steel costs, the merged entity would benefit from subsidies from the Korean state and would therefore be able to use unfair subsidies to undercut the prices with a result of marginalizing the existing competitors and finally leading to a dominant position on the market for cruise ships. The complainant argued that the Commission is obliged to take into account state aid into its merger control proceedings and has to make an independent assessment of whether state aid was granted or not.

22.

While the alleged low labour, energy and steel costs may differ geographically, all competitors are free to realise such advantages by taking a corresponding decision on the location of their production. These aspects are therefore not merger-specific. As to the alleged subsidies, it is worth noting that the financial transactions indicated by the complainant — which are also in no way triggered by the merger — cannot be identified as evident subsidies. It is also noted, that no procedure at the WTO, which would be a competent body to assess alleged subsidies in non-Member States, is currently taking place against Korea concerning subsidies for shipbuilding companies. It can be concluded that it was, therefore, not established within this merger investigation that the financial transactions indicated by the complainant constitute subsidies (1).

23.

Even though this lack of evidence for the existence of subsidies already indicates that on this basis no increase in financial strength on part of the merged entity can be assumed, additional steps were undertaken to evaluate the likelihood and the potential effects of the indicated past and future financial transactions. This investigation showed that even if the indicated transactions contained elements of subsidies, they would in any case not alter the merged entity's financial strength to a significant extent.

24.

The complainant stated that past subsidies were granted to STX in the form of (i) programs in support of technological knowledge and (ii) advantageous conditions for a particular loan that STX received in the past. The market investigation has, however, shown that the particular research program covered numerous projects and participants. The share that could be allocated to STX’ shipbuilding activities would be only very limited. Moreover, the loan which was indicated by the complainant was granted by a consortium of banks including private banks. Since all members of the consortium granted the same amount to the same conditions, it is prima facie unlikely that the loan could contain subsidies. Since the subsidy would in any case cover only the difference between the market interest rate and the subsidised interest rate, the total amount of such a subsidy would, moreover, not be likely to significantly increase the financial strength of the merged entity.

25.

The alleged future subsidies would, according to the complainant, mainly be granted in the form of pre-shipment loans (PSLs) and advanced payment refund guarantees (APRGs) for the merged entity’s ship-building projects, and would be extended by KEXIM, the State-owned Korean Export Bank. The market investigation has shown that, throughout the world, including in Europe, shipyards typically use similar types of instruments to finance their working capital. Moreover, the alleged subsidies which are claimed to cause anti-competitive effects in this case are only future, uncertain and speculative since it is not possible to forecast future decisions of the Korean government on the subsidisation of the shipbuilding industry. A past WTO-procedure, moreover, confirmed that KEXIM's programs do not per se contain elements of subsidies. There is, therefore, also no evidence that Korea will in the future subsidize the merged entity in breach of its WTO-obligations.

Even if assuming alleged unfair subsidies, STX would not be able to exert market power on the cruise ship market

26.

The Commission has also assessed whether STX, even assuming that it would have access to the alleged subsidies, would be in a position to exert market power on the cruise ship market.

27.

The main financial indicators of STX and the complainant indicate that the financial power of STX is not (and will not be following the transaction) significantly strengthened.

28.

The Commission has considered that the above alleged subsidisation of the financing instruments would only allow the merged entity to reduce the price of prototype ships built on the facilities in Korea by reducing the financing costs due to better interest rates and guarantee premiums. Even if assuming that the financial instruments would be extended below market conditions, the reduction of the costs by these subsidies would be very limited compared to the total costs for building a cruise ship. This cost reduction does not appear to be enough to lead to systematic undercutting of prices resulting in a monopolisation of the cruise ship market.

29.

Indeed, the market investigation has shown that this is not likely to happen. In particular, (i) the merged entity does not currently enjoy substantial market power (Aker Yard's position in the cruise shipbuilding market is [30-35] %, while Fincantieri's position is [40-45] % and Meyer-Werft's position is [25-30] %), (ii) customers are large and sophisticated (the four main customers are Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC and STAR/NCL, who control around 80 % of the cruise ships demand at world-wide level) and will be able to mitigate any anticompetitive behaviour, and (iii) competitors will not be unable to react and, in the extreme, keep re-entry as a credible threat.

Conclusion on the cruise ship market

30.

On the basis of the above, it is to be concluded that the proposed transaction does not give rise to any competition concerns in relation to the construction of cruise ships.

Construction of ferries

31.

The in-dept market investigation also analysed the potential impact of the merger on the market for ferries where Aker Yards is one of the major players in that business and STX not yet present. However, the market situations for ferries and for cruise ships are different. In comparison to the highly concentrated market for cruise ships, there are much more players present on the ferries market. Beside Aker Yard (with a market share of about [10-15] %), there is a large number of other shipbuilders present on the market, such as Fincantieri, Flensburger, Visentini, Apuania, Barreras an many others including Japanese Mitsubishi and Korean companies Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo, which makes any possible anti-competitive effects highly unlikely.

32.

STX has so far not built any ferry, nor was it awarded any contract for ferries. In any event, even if STX would be a potential entrant its entry would not bring about any significant change in the market structure. There is, therefore, no reason to believe that the removal of STX as a potential entrant would lead to a significant impediment of effective competition on the ferry market.

Construction of product tankers

33.

If product tankers were to be considered one product market with chemical/oil tankers the combined average market share of both companies in the period 2004-2007 would be 14,75 % in terms of deliveries based on tonnage and 11 % in terms of orders based on tonnage. Also on the basis of a narrower product market definition (a market for product tankers alone), the combined market shares of the parties would be limited and below 15 % (with an overlap of no more than 1,5 %).

34.

On the basis of the limited impact of the transaction on this market and the results of the market investigation, it is to be concluded that the proposed transaction does not give raise to competition concerns in relation to construction of product tankers.

Vertical aspects

Diesel ship propulsion engines manufacturing

35.

During the market investigation some concerns have been raised on possible negative effects as a result of the vertical relationship created by the current transaction, since STX is active in the production of marine engines.

36.

The market investigation has shown that the market for marine engines in general is not concentrated. In the overall marine diesel engines market, STX's market share at world-wide level in 2007 was around [15-20] %. Other important competitors are Wärtsilä [15-20] %, Yanmar [15-20] %, Daihatsu [25-30] %, Doosan [5-10] %) or Mitsui [5-10] %.

37.

STX does not produce or sell engines for cruise ships, a segment dominated by two companies, MAN B&W Diesel Group (‘MAN’) and Wärtsilä Corporation (‘Wärtsilä’). STX cannot produce engines suitable for use in cruise ships and/or ferries with its own technology and it has never supplied, either directly or indirectly, such engines. It rather uses technology licensed by MAN for the production of engines for commercial vessels. However, under the license agreement, STX has never manufactured or supplied either directly or indirectly engines which would be suitable for cruise ships or ferries. It is to be concluded that STX would not be at present in a position to supply engines for its own cruise ships.

38.

It is to be concluded that vertical relationships created by the current transaction are not likely to give rise to competition concerns in the cruise ships market.

Shipping services

39.

STX is further active, through its subsidiary STX Pan Ocean, in the area of shipping services, primarily in the area of dry bulk tankers.

40.

The notifying party has stated that for the shipping services related to dry bulk tankers, STX had a market share of around [0-5] % on the world level during the period of 2004-2007. Considering that shipbuilding markets are worldwide in scope and that vessels are procured on a world-wide level, the very limited presence of STX on the downstream shipping markets does not give rise to concerns relating to possible customers’ foreclosure of the merged entity's competitors on the upstream ship building market.

IV.   CONCLUSION

41.

The Commission has decided not to oppose the notified operation and to declare it compatible with the common market and with the EEA Agreement. This Decision is adopted in application of Article 8(1) of Regulation (EC) No 139/2004.


(1)  Contrary to the complainant's view, the Commission is not obliged to conduct a parallel independent analysis in order to conclude on the existence of alleged subsidies — comparable to a State Aid procedure under Article 88 EC Treaty — within a merger procedure, in particular if the alleged subsidies were granted by a country which is not a Member State. The case-law (in particular the judgement RJB Mining) which suggests that also supposed State Aid needs to be considered within merger control procedures referred to very specific circumstances, in which the Commission was conducting in parallel a merger control and a State aid procedure, which do not apply in this case. See Case T-156/98 RJB Mining vs. Commission [2001] ECR II-337.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/19


Opinion of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions given at its 382nd meeting on 18 October 2004 concerning a preliminary draft decision in Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles

2009/C 147/12

1.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission’s conclusion on the relevant markets.

2.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the addressees of the draft decision have participated in agreements and/or concerted practices within the meaning of Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty.

3.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the object and effect of the agreements and/or concerted practices were to restrict competition within the meaning of Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty.

4.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the addressees of the draft decision have participated in a single and continuous infringement of Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty.

5.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that the agreements and/or concerted practices have been capable of appreciably affecting trade between Member States of the EU.

6.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on its assessment of Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty.

7.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 should be applied in this case.

8.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on the gravity and duration of the infringement.

9.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission that there are no mitigating or aggravating circumstances applicable.

10.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on the application of the Leniency Notice.

11.

The Advisory Committee recommends the publication of its opinion in the Official Journal of the European Union.

12.

The Advisory Committee asks the Commission to take into account all the other points raised during the discussion.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/20


Opinion of the Advisory Committee on restrictive practices and dominant positions given at its 383rd meeting on 25 October 2004 concerning a preliminary draft decision in Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles

2009/C 147/13

1.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on the basic amounts of the fines as regards:

(a)

the gravity of the infringements,

(b)

the duration of the infringements.

2.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on the amounts of reduction of the fines based on the 1996 Commission notice on the non-imposition or reduction of fines in cartel cases.

3.

The Advisory Committee agrees with the Commission on the final amounts of the fines.

4.

The Advisory Committee recommends the publication of its opinion in the Official Journal of the European Union.

5.

The Advisory Committee asks the Commission to take into account all the other points raised during the discussion.


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/21


Final report of the hearing officer on the procedure in the Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles

(Pursuant to Article 15 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of hearing officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)

2009/C 147/14

The draft decision gives rise to the following observations:

The present case arises out of information provided by a representative of Entaco Ltd and investigations pursuant to Article 14(3) of Council Regulation No 17 (1) carried out by the Commission on 7 and 8 November 2001 at the premises of several Community producers of hard and soft haberdashery and the German association of fastening technology producers VBT. During the said investigation and subsequent enquiries under Article 11 of Regulation No 17 the Commission discovered documentary evidence which indicated an infringement of Article 81(1) EC Treaty through agreements and concerted practices committed by the following undertakings:

William Prym GmbH and Co. KG and Prym Consumer GmbH & Co. KG (‘Prym’) Coats plc (now: Coats Holdings Ltd) and J & P Coats Ltd (‘Coats’), Entaco Group Ltd and Entaco Ltd. (‘Entaco’)

On 15 March 2004, the Commission addressed a Statement of Objections (‘SO’) to Prym, Entaco and Coats in accordance with Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 2842/98 (2), which was received by Entaco on 16 March 2004 and by Coats and Prym on 17 March 2004. The deadline to reply to the SO was 13 May 2004. Coats and Prym were granted an extension of this deadline until 28 May 2004.

Entaco’s reply was received on 5 May 2004. Coats’ and Pryms’ replies were received on 28 May 2004.

Access to the file was provided by sending out a CD-Rom with the documents in the Commission’s file. It was received by the parties on 26 March 2004.

By letter of 13 April and 5 May 2004, Coats requested access to additional information in the Commission’s file, affirming that some further documents copied at Prym’s and VBT’s premises might be of relevance for Coats’ defence. Furthermore, Coats criticised the fact that some paragraphs in the SO had remained redacted even though they referred to relevant documents.

By letters of 3 May and 7 May 2004, I agreed that virtually the entirety of the documents copied at Prym’s premises, which in the meantime had been accepted by Prym as being non-confidential, should be transmitted to Coats. I also promised the re-instatement of nearly all the passages referred to in Coats’ request. Accordingly, the relevant Commission service granted access to this additional information in the ensuing days.

However, with respect to the other documents, which had been copied at VBT’s premises, I took the view that there was not a sufficient link with the present case to justify their disclosure and therefore did not accede to Coats’ request. Coats did not raise objections against this approach.

Upon request of the parties to be heard orally in this case, an oral hearing took place on 18 June 2004.

Subsequent to the oral hearing, each party was provided with a non-confidential version of the replies of the others. All parties were informed that the replies could be considered as containing new evidence pertaining to the allegations as set out in the SO. The parties were granted four weeks upon receipt to submit further comments.

On 28 July Coats submitted further documents in response to a number of issues that had been raised or clarified at the oral hearing. The same was done by Prym on 30 July 2004.

On 19 August 2004 Coats sent a memorandum to the Commission summarising their key objections against the Commission’s case.

The draft decision submitted to the Commission only contains objections about which the parties have had the opportunity to state their views.

In the light of the above, I consider that the right of the parties to be heard has been fully respected in this case.

Brussels, 19 October 2004.

Karen WILLIAMS


(1)  Regulation No 17 of the Council of 6 February 1962, First Regulation implementing Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty (OJ 13, 21.2.1962, p. 204).

(2)  Regulation (EC) No 2842/98 of the Commission of 22 December 1998 on the hearing of parties in certain proceedings under Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty (OJ L 354, 30.12.1998, p. 18).


27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/23


SUMMARY OF COMMISSION DECISION

of 26 October 2004

relating to a proceeding under Article 81 of the EC Treaty

(Case COMP/F-1/38.338 — PO/Needles)

(notified under document number C(2004) 4221)

(Only the English and German versions are authentic)

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/15

1.   INTRODUCTION AND INFRINGEMENTS

Three undertakings and their respective subsidiaries, namely William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and Prym Consumer GmbH & Co. KG, Coats Holdings Ltd and J & P Coats Ltd, Entaco Ltd and Entaco Group Ltd entered into a series of written, formally bilateral, agreements between 10 September 1994 (the Heads of Agreement were signed in June but entered into force on 10 September 1994) and 31 December 1999, amounting in practice to a tripartite agreement under which these undertakings shared or contributed to sharing product markets (by segmenting the European market for hard haberdashery products) and geographic markets (by segmenting the European market for needles). In addition, these undertakings participated in bilateral or trilateral meetings between 10 May 1993 and 8 November 2001 (Coats’ participation was limited to preliminary meetings). These concerted practices and agreements constitute an infringement of Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty and had the object and the effect:

For William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and Prym Consumer GmbH & Co. KG and Entaco Ltd and Entaco Group Ltd:

of sharing the European hard haberdashery market by limiting the business activity of Entaco Ltd to the hand sewing and special needles business, a fact which amounts to product market sharing between the hand sewing and special needles market and the wider markets for needles as well as other hard haberdashery markets,

of segmenting the European market for needles by restricting Entaco Ltd to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and (partially) Italy and by preventing that undertaking from entering the Continental European markets for needles (with the exception of so-called label accounts), thereby effectively reserving those markets for William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and its subsidiaries, a fact which amounts to geographic market sharing in the needles market.

For Coats Holdings Ltd and J & P Coats Ltd:

notably, of protecting the undertakings’ own needle brand (Milward) at the retail level from competition on behalf of Entaco Ltd by way of (i) an exclusive supply and purchasing agreement with Entaco Ltd covering the United Kingdom and (partially) Italy, and (ii) by way of imposing on Entaco Ltd an obligation to respect the geographic market sharing agreement that undertaking had entered into with William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and its subsidiaries.

The present draft decision is based upon the existence of inter-conditional clauses contained in the above-mentioned series of written bilateral agreements and upon certain contemporaneous documents. These clauses were renewed over time.

In this context it should be highlighted that the leniency application submitted on behalf of Entaco Ltd confirms all of the Commission’s findings in these proceedings. Prym in its reply to the Statement of Objections confessed its participation to the infringements but contested the size of the relevant markets.

2.   PROCEDURE

The present findings arise out of investigations carried out by the Commission on 7 and 8 November 2001 pursuant to Article 14(3) of Regulation No 17 at the premises of several Community producers of hard and soft haberdashery (notably Entaco Ltd, Coats plc, William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and the German association of fastening technology producers VBT (Fachverband Verbindungs- und Befestigungstechnik)). By means of said investigations and subsequent enquiries under Article 11 of Regulation No 17, the Commission obtained documentary evidence indicating that infringements of Article 81 of the EC Treaty had been committed by the following undertakings: William Prym GmbH and Co. KG, Prym Consumer GmbH & Co. KG, Coats Holdings Ltd, J & P Coats Ltd and Entaco Ltd. The investigations were a result of information provided by Mr Martin Ellis of Entaco between 23 August 2000 and 6 August 2001. The relevant services of the Commission considered these pieces of information as a leniency application by Mr Martin Ellis of Entaco in a letter dated 21 August 2001.

In April, May, June and October 2003, the Commission sent requests for information under Article 11 to the following hard and soft haberdashery manufacturers in the European Community: Coats plc, William Prym GmbH & Co. KG, Entaco Ltd and to the association VBT and Needle Industries (India) Private Ltd.

On 15 March 2004, the Commission addressed a Statement of Objections to Prym, Entaco and Coats in accordance with Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 2842/98, which was received by Entaco on 16 March 2004 and by Coats and Prym on 17 March 2004. Access to the file was provided to the parties in electronic form. Each received a CD-ROM with the documents on the Commission’s file on 26 March 2004.

The Hearing took place on 18 June 2004. Directorate A and the Legal Service were consulted on 18 September 2004.

3.   THE RELEVANT MARKETS

The Commission has identified three relevant product markets: (i) the European market for hand sewing and craft needles (including notably special needles), in which the product and geographic market sharing took place (market value around EUR 30 million), (ii) the European market of ‘other sewing and knitting products including pins, knitting pins/knitting needles’ (market value around EUR 30 million), and (iii) the European market for other hard haberdashery products including zips and other fasteners (EUR 1,5 billion), in both of which the product market sharing only took place from 10 September 1994 to 13 March 1997. The market for hand sewing and craft needles must be distinguished from the market for industrial machine needles which were not manufactured by the undertakings during the infringement period. Prym maintains that hand sewing and craft needles are to be regarded as separate relevant markets. However, this view cannot be sustained as the other undertakings do not support that view and the infringing agreements refer to both types of needles.

4.   THE MECHANISM OF THE INFRINGEMENTS

1.

Coats was protected against Entaco and Prym competition at the retail level (for its Milward brand) since:

Entaco could not compete with Coats by virtue of the agreements it had signed with both Coats and Prym respectively for the UK and Continental Europe at the retail level.

Under clause 2.2 of the Supply and Purchase agreement, Entaco is restricted from supplying Coats customers in the UK: ‘Entaco shall not supply products to a customer of a UK Purchaser other than those customers to whom the Supplier supplies Products prior to the date hereof at existing business levels’.

Under clause 2.2 of the Distribution agreement between Prym and Entaco, Entaco is restricted from selling to customers of Coats and Prym in Continental Europe: ‘Entaco will not sell products to any person in the territory [Europe excluding the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland] other than the label accounts and/or the Distributor [Prym Consumer] and/or the Coats group.’

Therefore Entaco was not an independent force in the market since it could effectively only sell to Coats or Prym.

Prym needed the support of Coats to stop Entaco entering the Continental European market.

It must also be remembered that to enforce the market sharing agreements, all Coats (as the overwhelming buyer in UK) had to do was to buy from Entaco rather than Prym. This kept Prym limited to low activity in the UK while it disciplined Entaco to remain outside Continental Europe, because if it did not then Coats would stop considering Entaco as an exclusive supplier, a fact which is contained in clause 2.2 of the Supply and Purchase agreement between Entaco and Coats:

[…] (b) fulfil its obligations of cognate nature pursuant to an Agreement between the Supplier and Prym dated [10 September 1994]/[1 April 1997].

In addition, Coats as the main distributor in Europe was in a position by using its orders of products to ‘play off’ Entaco and Prym against each other, which represented another mode to discipline Prym.

2.

Entaco wanted to be the exclusive supplier of Coats in the UK as a security for its production; otherwise it would not have entered into the product market sharing agreement, limiting its business development. Indeed Entaco agreed to a very substantial limitation of its activity:

In the Heads of Agreement: ‘Entaco agrees to restrict its manufacturing and distribution activities in the haberdashery sector to needles only, and not to widen its activities to include pins, safety pins, four-piece fasteners, knitting pins, or any other haberdashery product without the prior agreement of Prym’ (in addition to clause 2.3 of the Purchasing agreement between Prym and Entaco).

In the Distribution agreement under clause 2.2 as quoted above which amounts to a geographic market sharing agreement.

Entaco did not receive a similar guarantee from Prym. It needed as a consequence the security of an outlet for its production in the UK from Coats, which is what it received.

Entaco, being a management buy-out of Coats’ former needle business, was facing competition from two major companies, Prym and Coats which were linked by shareholding interests and a ‘special partnership’. For Entaco, entering in this tripartite agreement was the best possible deal since it gained a secure outlet by just offering ‘a face of independence to the market’ in exchange.

3.

Prym, without the approval, of Coats would not have entered a market sharing agreement to the potential detriment of its main shareholder and its main partner (Coats) in the European haberdashery market.

5.   CONCLUSION

The infringements committed by the addressees (1) are considered as ‘very serious’ as they have the object of partitioning national markets and sharing product markets, thereby restricting competition and affecting trade between Member States.

As Entaco was the only undertaking to inform the Commission of the existence of the market sharing agreements and to bring decisive evidence without which the market sharing agreements might not have been disclosed, and in the light of its continuous co-operation, it is proposed to make it benefit from full immunity of fines.


(1)  William Prym GmbH & Co. KG and Prym Consumer GmbH & Co. KG, Coats Holdings Ltd and J & P Coats Ltd, Entaco Ltd and Entaco Group Ltd.


V Announcements

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES

Council

27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/26


OPEN CALL

European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST)

2009/C 147/16

COST brings together researchers and experts in different countries working on specific topics. COST does NOT fund research itself, but supports networking activities such as meetings, conferences, short term scientific exchanges and outreach activities. Currently more than 200 scientific networks (Actions) are supported.

COST invites proposals for Actions contributing to the scientific, technological, economic, cultural or societal development of Europe. Proposals playing a precursor role for other European programmes and/or initiated by early-stage researchers are especially welcome.

Developing stronger links amongst European researchers is crucial to building the European Research Area (ERA). COST stimulates new, innovative, interdisciplinary and broad research networks in Europe. COST activities are carried out by research teams to strengthen the foundations for building scientific excellence in Europe.

COST is organised in nine broad Domains (Biomedicine and Molecular Biosciences; Chemistry and Molecular Sciences and Technologies; Earth System Science and Environmental Management; Food and Agriculture; Forests, their Products and Services; Individuals, Society, Culture and Health; Information and Communication Technologies; Materials, Physical and Nanosciences; Transport and Urban Development). The intended coverage of each Domain is explained at: www.cost.esf.org

Proposers are invited to locate their topic within one Domain. However, inter-disciplinary proposals not fitting readily into a single Domain are particularly welcome and will be assessed separately by the Trans-Domain Proposals Standing Assessment Body.

Proposals should include researchers from a minimum of five COST countries. Financial support in the range of EUR 100 000 p.a. for normally four years can be expected.

Proposals will be assessed in two stages. Preliminary Proposals (maximum 1 500 words/3 pages), submitted using the on-line template at www.cost.esf.org/opencall should provide a brief overview of the proposal and its intended impact. Proposals not conforming to the eligibility criteria of COST (e.g. requesting research funding) will be excluded. Eligible Proposals will be assessed by the relevant Domain Committees in accordance with the published criteria at www.cost.esf.org Proposers of selected Preliminary Proposals will be invited to submit a Full Proposal. Full Proposals will be peer reviewed according to the assessment criteria at www.cost.esf.org/opencall The decision will normally be taken within six months of the collection date and the Actions should expect to start within three months thereafter.

The collection date for Preliminary Proposals is 25 September 2009, 17:00 Brussels time. Approximately 80 Full Proposals will be invited for final selection of approximately 30 new Actions.

Full Proposals will be invited by 13 November 2009 for submission by 15 January 2010, with decisions expected in May 2010. The next collection date is envisaged for 26 March 2010.

Proposers may wish to contact their national COST Coordinator (CNC) for information and guidance — see: www.cost.esf.org/cnc

Proposals must be submitted on-line to the COST Office website.

COST receives financial support for its coordinating activities from the EU RTD Framework Programme. The COST Office, administered by the European Science Foundation (ESF), acting as the implementing agent for COST, provides the scientific secretariat for COST Domains and COST Actions.


PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPETITION POLICY

Commission

27.6.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/28


Prior notification of a concentration

(Case COMP/M.5562 — Fortis Private Equity/Kuiken)

Candidate case for simplified procedure

(Text with EEA relevance)

2009/C 147/17

1.

On 22 June 2009, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration pursuant to Article 4 of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 (1) by which the undertaking Fortis Private Equity Holding Nederland B.V. (‘Fortis Private Equity’, The Netherlands) controlled by Fortis Bank Nederland N.V. (‘Fortis Bank Nederland’, The Netherlands) acquires within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the Council Regulation control of the whole of the undertaking Kuiken N.V. (‘Kuiken’, The Netherlands) by way of purchase of shares.

2.

The business activities of the undertakings concerned are:

for Fortis Bank Nederland: a banking group active in retail banking, merchant banking and private banking,

for Fortis Private Equity: a subsidiary of Fortis Bank Nederland active in private equity investments in medium-sized companies in The Netherlands,

for Kuiken: a holding group of companies active in distribution of heavy equipment used in construction, material handling and agriculture.

3.

On preliminary examination, the Commission finds that the notified transaction could fall within the scope of Regulation (EC) No 139/2004. However, the final decision on this point is reserved. Pursuant to the Commission Notice on a simplified procedure for treatment of certain concentrations under Council Regulation (EC) No139/2004 (2) it should be noted that this case is a candidate for treatment under the procedure set out in the Notice.

4.

The Commission invites interested third parties to submit their possible observations on the proposed operation to the Commission.

Observations must reach the Commission not later than 10 days following the date of this publication. Observations can be sent to the Commission by fax (+32 2 2964301 or 2967244) or by post, under reference number COMP/M.5562 — Fortis Private Equity/Kuiken to the following address:

European Commission

Directorate-General for Competition

Merger Registry

J-70

1049 Bruxelles/Brussel

BELGIQUE/BELGIË


(1)  OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1.

(2)  OJ C 56, 5.3.2005, p. 32.