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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Inoxum by Outokumpu in stainless steel sector

Brussels, 22 May 2012- The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition of Inoxum, the stainless steel division of ThyssenKrupp of Germany by the Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu. The Commission’s preliminary investigation indicated potential serious competition concerns in various markets for the production and distribution of stainless steel flat products, where the merged entity would have very high market shares. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 26 September 2012, to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would reduce effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Commission examined the competitive effects of the proposed acquisition in the affected EEA markets for the sale of slabs, hot rolled and cold rolled stainless steel products. The combined shares of the parties are significant in all these markets. Furthermore, only three integrated producers of stainless steel flat products would remain active in the EEA after the proposed transaction.

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

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 10 April 2012.

Companies and products

Outokumpu is a Finnish company listed on the Helsinki stock exchange. It is the parent company of a group that produces and distributes stainless steel products globally. It also produces ferrochrome.

Inoxum is the stainless steel division of the Germany company ThyssenKrupp AG. Inoxum produces and distributes stainless steel and high alloy products.

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 notified 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).

There are currently three other ongoing phase II merger investigations. The first one concerns the proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music business by Universal (see IP/12/311), with a deadline on 06 September 2012. The second ongoing phase II investigation was opened in March into the proposed acquisition of control over Goodrich by United Technology in the aviation equipment sector (see IP/12/308). The deadline here is 31 August 2012. Finally, on 13 April 2012, the Commission has opened a second phase investigation into the creation of a mobile commerce joint venture by UK mobile operators Telefónica, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere (see IP/12/367). The deadline for a final decision in this case is 19 September 2012.

A non-confidential version of today's decison will be available at:

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)

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