Brussels, 12 September 2014
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of hazelnut company Oltan by Ferrero
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the hazelnuts trading and processing company Oltan by Ferrero International S.A. of Luxembourg. Ferrero is a rival of Oltan, through Stelliferi, in the procurement and supply of hazelnuts and, at the same time, a customer of Oltan. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because the merged entity will continue to face sufficiently strong competition after the merger and customers will still have sufficient alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
The Commission examined the effects of the merger on competition in the markets for (i) the procurement and supply of hazelnuts, (ii) the manufacturing and sale of chocolate confectionery and (iii) the manufacturing and sale of sweet spreadable products.
The operation will create the world's largest hazelnuts supplier, with a significant market position for hazelnuts grown in Turkey, which accounts for around 70% of the worldwide production. Ferrero, the largest purchaser of hazelnuts worldwide, uses hazelnuts as an ingredient in the manufacturing and sale of chocolate confectionery, including products such as Kinder Bueno, Kinder Surprise, Rocher and Mon Cheri, and in the manufacturing and sale of sweet spreadable products (Nutella).
However, the Commission's investigation found that the operation would not lead to competition concerns as customers will still have sufficient alternative hazelnuts suppliers, such as Progida, Ozgun, Balsu, Durak, Gursoy, Yavuz and other international traders. In addition, some competitors have recently entered the market or strengthened their presence.
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 7 August 2014.
Ferrero is the holding company of the Ferrero group, a producer of foodstuffs, active worldwide in the manufacturing and sale of confectionery and other sweet products (e.g. chocolate confectionery, candies, snacks and sweet spreadable products), and in the purchase and commercialization of edible nuts, and in particular hazelnuts, all over the world.
Oltan is a group of companies active in the purchase, processing and commercialization of hazelnuts, mainly of Turkish origin, all over the world.
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 European Economic Area 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).