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IP/98/825

Brussels, 22 September 1998

Commission clears joint venture @Home Benelux B.V.

The European Commission has authorised, under the Merger Regulation, the creation of the full-function joint venture @Home Benelux B.V. The joint venture is set up jointly by @Home, Palet Kabelcom and Edon and will provide enhanced Internet access and services to residential customers, mainly located in the Netherlands, through the local cable network. The Commission concluded that the creation of the joint venture does not create or strengthen a dominant position on the relevant product and geographic market, even based on the narrowest market definition. The market shares of the participating companies remain low, and a large number of competitors exist on the relevant markets.

For the purpose of offering access to the public Internet as well as Internet applications (e.g. multi-player games, video on demand, live sport broadcasts) @Home Benelux will build and maintain a new network, consisting partly of its own equipment and partly of the networks of the cable operators involved. Edon and Palet Kabelcom will each own 45% of the share capital of the joint venture company, and @Home the remaining 10% of shares.

The parent companies of the joint venture are At Home Corporation, Palet Kabelcom B.V. (Palet Kabelcom) and Edon Beheer B.V. (Edon). At Home corporation is a US company engaged in the marketing and provision of enhanced Internet access in the US and Canada. The joint venture @Home has been created for the purpose of participating in the newly created joint venture @Home Benelux B.V..

Edon, a subsidiary of the holding company N.V. Edon Groep (owned by local Dutch administrations), provides Internet services in the Netherlands through its affiliate N.V. CasTel in which all cable and telecommunications activities of the Edon Groep have been accommodated. Palet Kabelcom B.V., recently set up, integrates the cable and telecommunications activities of N.V. Pnem Teleservices and Mega Limburg Telediensten N.V. (belonging to the Pnem/Mega Groep owned by local Dutch administrations). Edon and the Pnem/Mega Groep are also active in the production and distribution of energy and the collection, processing and recycling of waste.

According to the new Article 2 (4) of the Merger Control Regulation, a joint venture having as its object or effect the co-ordination of the competitive behaviour of its parent companies also has to be appraised in accordance with the criteria of Article 85 (1) and 85 (3) EC-Treaty. In this respect, the Commission concluded that the operation will not lead to any restriction of competition, because it is not likely that the creation of the joint venture in the Netherlands would have the object or effect for the parent companies to co-ordinate their competitive behaviour on other markets closely related to the joint venture markets.


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