Brussels, 1 April 2011
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition by Suntory and Castel of Covea Group's subsidiaries active in the French wine sector.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Suntory and Castel of joint control of Grands Millésimes de France as well as the simultaneous acquisition by Castel of sole control of Savour Club and MAAF Subsidiaries. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
Suntory is a Japanese group active mainly in the production and distribution of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages. Castel is a French producer and distributor of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages. Together, Suntory and Castel acquire joint control of Grands Millésimes de France (GMdF), a French holding company with participations in different companies active in the wine sector. At the same time, Castel will acquire sole control of Savour Club, a French company specialised in retailing of wine and spirits and MAAF Subsidiaries, active in the production and commercialization of wine. All target companies are subsidiaries of the French Covea Group.
The transactions mainly impact the production and commercialisation of Bordeaux wines in France where Suntory, Castel, GMdF and MAAF Subsidiaries are all present. However, as the increment arising from this transaction is rather insignificant, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns.
Merger control rules and procedures
The Commission, in 1989, was given the power to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Art 1 of the Merger Regulation). The Commission clears the vast majority of mergers without conditions and only accepts remedies or prohibits mergers when the notified transaction would lead to a significant impediment to competition and make consumers worse off.
From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 25 February 2011.
More information on the case is available at: