European Commission – Press Release
Mergers: Commission authorises creation of a joint venture between SENOBLE and AGRIAL in the dairy sector
Brussels, 21 February 2012 – The European Commission cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of SENAGRAL, a joint venture to be controlled by SENOBLE and AGRIAL, two French companies operating in the dairy sector. The joint venture will operate in the production and sale of private label fresh dairy products in France, Germany and Benelux. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the new entity will have numerous competitors in the markets concerned.
The activities of the parties to the operation overlap in the supply of raw cow's milk in France. However, the parties will continue to have numerous competitors in this market.
In addition, the proposed operation creates a vertical relationship between the upstream production of raw cow’s milk and the downstream production of fresh dairy products. The Commission found that milk producers would continue to have a significant number of other customers. It also concluded that the proposed operation was highly unlikely to cause problems of supply of raw cow’s milk in France. There are other suppliers with sufficient production capacities and there are no factors that could act as an incentive to the merged entity to engage in a strategy of input foreclosure.
The Commission therefore concluded that this operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA)1 or any substantial part of it.
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 16 January 2012.
AGRIAL is a French agricultural cooperative group operating in particular in the milk collection sector. It operates in the following agricultural and agri-food sectors: input, animal feed, rural distribution, farm equipment and livestock-farming and crop-growing sectors.
SENOBLE manufactures and sells fresh dairy products (yoghurt, fresh cheese, fresh cream) and engages in various activities relating to collection of milk from dairy producers and food transport logistics. It operates in France, Spain, the UK, Italy and Slovakia in the production and sale of milk, dairy products and fruit-based beverages.
Merger control rules and procedures
The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.
The vast majority of mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. 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).
A non-confidential version of today's decision will be available at
Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)
Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)
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