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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed merger between Italian transport companies CIN and Tirrenia

Brussels, 18 January 2012 - The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned acquisition of joint control over a branch of the Italian state-owned ferry group Tirrenia by Compagnia Italiana di Navigazione ("CIN") of Italy. The Commission’s initial market investigation indicated serious competition concerns, in particular because the parties to the merger have very high, if not monopolistic, combined market shares on a number of maritime routes in Italy, and in particular on certain routes to and from Sardinia. 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 4 June 2012, to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would reduce effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “The proposed acquisition could strongly reduce competition in the market to the detriment of millions of travellers and numerous freight transporters. The Commission needs to make sure that consumers and other customers continue to have a competitive choice of ferry services to and from Sardinia and Sicily."

The Commission’s initial investigation showed in particular that the proposed transaction would lead to very high if not monopolistic market shares on several domestic routes in Italy.

At this stage of the investigation, the new entity would not appear to be sufficiently constrained by strong, viable and credible competitors on several routes and consequently the acquisition raises serious doubts as to its impact on competition.

The Commission will now investigate the proposed merger in-depth to determine whether these initial concerns are confirmed or not.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 21 November 2011.

Companies and markets

CIN is a company which has been created for the purpose of the present transaction by Marinvest S.r.l., Grimaldi Compagnia di Navigazione S.p.A. and Onorato Partecipazioni S.r.l.

Marinvest is the holding company of a group of companies active in the passenger and freight shipping sector. It controls MSC Crociere S.p.A. (which is active in the cruise sector), GNV and SNAV S.p.A. Both GNV and SNAV carry out maritime freight and passenger transport services in the Mediterranean Sea.

Onorato Partecipazioni is a holding company which controls, among others, Moby, a company active in maritime freight and passenger transport services in the Mediterranean Sea.

Grimaldi is a shipping company active in the market of maritime freight and passenger transport services, both on Atlantic and Mediterranean routes.

Tirrenia provides passenger and freight maritime transport services connecting mainland Italy with some of the Italian islands, primarily Sardinia and Sicily.

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 Commission clears the vast majority of mergers after a one-month review, but if it has competition concerns it must open an in-depth investigation (Phase II review). The opening of a full probe does not prejudge its outcome.

There are currently three other Phase II investigations. The first one concerns the proposed acquisition of NYSE Euronext by Deutsche Börse (see IP/11/948) and has a deadline of 9 February 2012. The second one assesses the planned acquisition of Synthes by Johnson and Johnson, both US companies active in the area of orthopaedic medical devices (see IP/11/1306, deadline here is 2 April 2012). The last ongoing phase II investigation was opened in November 2011 into the proposed acquisition of control over the sugar trader ED&F MAN by the German sugar and molasses producer Südzucker (see IP/11/1327). The deadline for a decision in the latter case is 25 April 2012.

Several State aid cases involving Tirrenia di Navigazione are also under assessment by the Commission (See press release IP/11/1157 of 05/10/2011), in particular regarding the conditions of the privatisation and the future public service obligations.

More information on the case will be available at:

Contact :

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

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