Brussels, 29th January 2009
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of joint control of Retriever Sverige by Bonnier and Schibsted
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition of joint control by Bonnier of Sweden and Schibsted of Norway of Retriever Sverige of Sweden, which is currently solely controlled by Schibsted. Bonnier and Schibsted are leading media companies in Sweden. Retriever Sverige offers media monitoring, media archive and business information services in Sweden. The Commission's initial market investigation indicated that the proposed acquisition would raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the Single Market because of competition concerns on the markets for media monitoring and media archive services in Sweden. A decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 15 June 2009, to take a final decision on whether the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or a substantial part of it.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “We must ensure that the digital era improves the access of European citizens and businesses to more and better information and that large media groups do not channel the new possibilities offered by the internet for their own gain."
Bonnier is a family-owned international media group with operations in over 20 countries. Its operations cover most media formats and are divided into five business areas: Books, Magazine Group, Business Press, Newspapers and Broadcasting & Entertainment.
Retriever Sverige is a business-to-business supplier of digital media intelligence services, archives and business analyses in Sweden. It is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schibsted. Schibsted operates in 22 countries, including Sweden. The group is active in newspapers, TVs, films, online services, mobile phones, books and magazines.
The Commission has concerns about possible anti-competitive effects on the markets for media monitoring and media archive services in Sweden.
The Commission's initial investigation revealed that news articles from major Swedish newspapers controlled by Bonnier and Schibsted are a critical input for the provision of media monitoring and archive services in Sweden. The market investigation also revealed that media monitoring is evolving towards a digital format, the use of which requires, contrary to the traditional physical format, the consent of the publisher of news articles under applicable copyright laws. The provision of media archive services is also entirely dependent on publisher consent because these services are provided only in digital format.
The Commission's market investigation revealed a risk that, post-transaction,Bonnier and Schibsted would be in a position to discriminate against Retriever Sverige's competitors in the supply of news articles and would have the incentive to do so.
More information on the case will be available at: