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European Commission - Press release

Mergers: Commission clears Trafigura's acquisition of de facto sole control of Nyrstar

Brussels, 16 December 2015

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control of Nyrstar of Belgium by Trafigura of the Netherlands.

Trafigura is one of the world’s leading independent commodity traders, specialising in oil, minerals and metals markets. Nyrstar is an integrated mining and metals business, with established positions in zinc and lead.

The Commission has concluded that the proposed acquisition of control of Nyrstar by Trafigura would not raise competition concerns in the European Economic Area (EEA) market for zinc metal because the companies are not close competitors and alternative suppliers would remain active after the merger. Zinc is used in a range of end uses including galvanising, brass semis and castings, rolled and extruded products, die casting alloys and chemicals. The largest use of zinc is for galvanizing steel, which is used, for example, by the car industry.

Currently, Nyrstar supplies zinc metal to Noble on the basis of an existing long term contract. Noble, a competitor to Trafigura, has recently established a significant position in the zinc market in the EEA. The Commission investigated the potential consequences should the supply relationship with Noble be terminated after the merger. The investigation showed that there would not be any adverse effects for competition in the market for zinc metal in the EEA. Firstly, because Noble could secure zinc metal from other sources. Secondly, because even if some customers were to leave Noble, they would have alternatives in the market other than Trafigura.

The Commission also examined the vertical relationship arising from Trafigura's supply of zinc concentrate that can be used as an input for Nyrstar's production of zinc metal. The Commission concluded that the merged entity would be unable to hinder competing zinc metal producers from access to zinc concentrate, because several other zinc concentrate sources would remain available, including the possibility for many of internal sourcing. Moreover, although Nyrstar is an important purchaser of zinc concentrates, suppliers competing with Trafigura would still have a sufficient customer base as several other purchasers would remain active in the market.

The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. Trafigura has been building up its stake in Nyrstar over time until reaching a level of around 20% that, on the basis of historical attendance rates of Nyrstar's shareholders' meetings, leads to control over a stable majority of votes. Therefore the transaction is deemed to be notifiable under EU merger rules. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7779.


Trafigura is a Dutch multinational and one of the world’s leading independent commodity traders, specialising in oil, minerals and metals markets.

Nyrstar, a company incorporated in Belgium, is an integrated mining and metals business, with established positions in zinc and lead.


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.

Under Article 4 of the Merger Regulation, a transaction has to be notified to the Commission if there is a change of control on a lasting basis.

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).


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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