Brussels, 7 January 2011
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed merger of Votorantim's Citrovita and Fischer's Citrosuco in orange juice sector
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed creation of a joint venture by the Brazilian groups Votorantim and Fischer combining their respective activities in the orange juice sector. The Commission’s initial market investigation indicated that the transaction raises potential competition concerns in the European Economic Area (EEA) with respect to orange juice and a number of by-products that arise during the transformation of fresh oranges into juice. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 19 May 2011, to take a final decision on whether the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the EEA or a substantial part of it.
Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “Orange juice is a familiar part of many European consumers' diet but they are probably unaware that most of the orange juice consumed in the EEA comes from Brazil. The proposed joint venture would combine two of the four main suppliers of orange juice to Europe and we need to make sure that European consumers will not be adversely affected."
Votorantim is a diversified Brazilian group with operations in sectors ranging from cement and concrete to mining and metallurgy. Its activities in the fruit juice sector are carried out through its subsidiary Citrovita.
Fischer is a Brazilian group active in the provision of maritime services for petroleum platforms and the production and wholesale of fruit juice via its subsidiary Citrosuco.
The Commission's initial investigation has shown that the transaction would bring together two of the largest orange juice producers in the world and lead to significant overlaps between the merging parties' activities in the EEA where they supply orange juice at the wholesale level to companies active in the beverage sector. These companies in turn supply end consumers with finished juice products under their own brand names or those of major retailers. The Commission's initial investigation has also shown that the joint venture would have a strong position on the markets for the supply of a number of by-products which are produced during the transformation of fresh oranges into juice, such as orange oils and essences.
The proposed concentration was notified to the Commission on 24 November 2010. More information on the case will be available at: