BRUSSELS --- The European Commission has agreed to the request submitted by France and Germany asking it to look at Fincantieri's proposed acquisition of Chantiers de l'Atlantique in the light of the EU Merger Regulation.
The Commission considers that the transaction could harm competition at European and global level.
The proposed acquisition of Chantiers de l'Atlantique by Fincantieri does not reach the turnover thresholds set by the EU Merger Regulation for transactions notifiable to the European Commission because of their European dimension.
However, the plan was notified for authorisation in France and Germany.
France submitted a referral request pursuant to Article 22(1) of the EU Merger Regulation. This provision allows Member States to request that the Commission examine a concentration that does not have an EU dimension but affects trade within the single market and threatens to significantly affect competition within the territory of the Member States making the request. Germany joined the referral request submitted by France.
On the basis of the information provided by France and Germany, and without prejudice to the outcome of its exhaustive investigation, the Commission considers that the transaction could significantly harm competition in shipbuilding, in particular in the global cruise ship market.
The Commission also concluded that it was best placed to examine the potential cross-border effects of the transaction. Therefore, the acquisition of Chantiers de l'Atlantique by Fincantieri will be fully examined by the Commission.
The Commission will now ask Fincantieri to notify the transaction.
Fincantieri is an Italian shipbuilding group, the bulk of whose capital is held by Cassa depositi e prestiti, itself majority-owned by the Italian State. The Fincantieri group is mainly active in the design and construction of merchant vessels, military vessels and specialised high-end offshore vessels. It also provides services to ship owners and designs and manufactures mechanical equipment. Fincantieri is Europe's largest shipbuilder.
Chantiers de l'Atlantique is a French shipbuilding company based in Saint-Nazaire, the bulk of whose capital is held by the French State through the Agence des participations de l'État (the French Government shareholding agency). Chantiers de l'Atlantique is mainly active in the design and construction of passenger ships. It also provides services to ship owners.
More information on the transaction will be available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under case number M.9162.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The acquisition of France’s Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyards by Italy’s Fincantieri state-owned shipbuilding group, was the basis for the planned merger of the military activities of Fincantieri and Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS), the French state-controlled naval shipbuilder.
Set up through a complex deal agreed last summer, the merger was agreed on paper but never implemented because of the deteriorating relations between Paris and Rome.
Some observers say that by asking the EU Commission to rule on the acquisition, France is hoping that the deal will be stopped without its having to pay the political price for reversing its agreement, and without appearing to turn its back on the consolidation of the European defense industrial base that it has long been calling for.)