Energizer and Spectrum Brands are two of the world's main manufacturers and suppliers of consumer batteries. They sell their batteries under the Energizer, Varta and Rayovac brands in the European Economic Area (EEA). Their product portfolios include household batteries (such as AA and AAA), specialty batteries (such as batteries for cameras or watches) and hearing aid batteries.
The Commission's investigation
On the basis of its preliminary investigation, the Commission was concerned that the proposed transaction, as originally notified, would have significantly reduced competition in a number of EEA countries, specifically in the branded product markets for:
- disposable household batteries;
- rechargeable household batteries;
- specialty batteries;
- hearing aid batteries (specifically those sold to mass retailers, such as supermarkets or electronics stores); and
- portable battery chargers.
The merged entity would have become by far the largest supplier (and in some cases, the only supplier) of those products in a number of EEA markets, with limited constraints from competitors. The Commission was therefore concerned that the proposed acquisition would harm competition and lead to increased prices and reduced choice for consumers.
The proposed remedies
To address the Commission's competition concerns, Energizer offered:
- To divest Spectrum Brands' Varta business. More specifically, this entailed the divestment of Spectrum Brands' entire activities in Varta-branded and unbranded household and specialty batteries, chargers and portable lighting, in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA), which includes more than 100 countries.
- To enter into an exclusive supply and licence agreement with the purchaser of the Varta business for the sale of Rayovac-branded hearing aid batteries to mass retailers in EMEA. This provides the purchaser with the opportunity to develop its own hearing aid battery business by the end of the supply period via a re-branding strategy.
These commitments remove the overlap between the companies' activities in each of the national markets for which the Commission had concerns.
Therefore, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns. The decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.
Companies and products
Energizer, based in the US, manufactures and markets consumer batteries sold under the Energizer and Eveready brands, as well as branded portable battery chargers and lighting products.
Spectrum Brands, based in the US, is a diversified consumer goods company. Its consumer battery and portable lighting business supplies consumer batteries under the Varta and Rayovac brands, as well as private label batteries. It also sells portable chargers and portable lighting products.
Merger control rules and procedures
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 19 October 2018.
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). This deadline is extended to 35 working days in cases where remedies are submitted by the parties, such as in this case.