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Midday Express of 2010-01-25

Commission Européenne - MEX/10/0125   25/01/2010

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EXME 10 / 25.01

Midday Express of 2010-01-25

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

Antitrust: Commission opens formal proceedings concerning iron ore production joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Anglo-Australian mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton under the EU rules on restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - TFEU). Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are respectively the second and third largest producers of iron ore in the world. The proposed joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton would combine the parties' iron ore assets in Western Australia. The Commission will in particular examine the effects of the proposed joint venture on the worldwide market for iron ore transported by sea (so-called "seaborne iron ore").

New study on "Public Goods provided by Agriculture in the European Union"

The Common Agricultural Policy plays a critical role in helping farmers to deliver environmental goods and services, provided that policies are targeted in the right way. This is the key message of a report published today for DG Agriculture and Rural Development by the Institute for European Environmental Policy. The report is a first ever attempt to identify the full range of environmental public goods provided by farmers across Europe and sets out the arguments for paying for their delivery via the public purse. The study identifies a wide range of diverse environmental and social public goods that are provided by European farmers, including valued cultural landscapes ; farmland birds, such as the globally threatened Great Bustard and Imperial Eagle ; and the species-rich meadows that are found across Europe. In addition, farmers manage the land for carbon storage and help to maintain high quality water and soils. The results of this study come at a time when the debate about the future of the CAP is intensifying and when the objectives and priorities of the CAP for the period after 2013 are being discussed. The study concludes that a well targeted policy, with clear objectives and sufficient budgetary resources, will be essential to ensure the delivery of public goods in line with society's expectations.

State aid: Commission approves liquidation of Bradford & Bingley

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules UK Government measures granted for the liquidation of Bradford & Bingley. Following Bradford & Bingley's split-up and nationalisation of the part containing the impaired assets in 2008, the UK authorities notified a liquidation plan for the bank. The Commission has authorised the measures, because they are appropriate and necessary for an orderly winding down of the bank while taking into account the necessity to preserve the confidence of creditors in the financial system and remedy a serious disturbance of the UK economy. The Commission therefore concluded that the plan is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), that allows aid to remedy a serious disturbance in a Member State's economy.

State aid: Commission approves aid for restructuring of Dunfermline Building Society

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules the aid given by the UK authorities to facilitate restructuring of the Dunfermline Building Society of the United Kingdom. The restructuring consisted of the immediate split-up of Dunfermline, after which the part containing the good assets and liabilities was sold in an auction to a competitor with a financial contribution by the UK State of over £1.5 billion. The part containing the impaired assets was put into administration. The Commission found that the orderly break-up of Dunfermline resulted in the return to viability of the good part that was sold. The Commission furthermore concluded that there was sufficient burden-sharing as subordinated debt-holders contributed to the restructuring as much as possible and that the liquidation of a substantial part of Dunfermline limited the distortion of competition caused by the aid. The Commission therefore concluded that the direct restructuring is compatible with the EU rules on state aid to remedy a serious disturbance in a Member State's economy (Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty).

Industrial new orders up by 2.7% in euro area - REVISED VERSION

In November 2009 compared with October 2009, the euro area (EA16) industrial new orders index rose by 2.7%. In October the index fell by 2.1%. In the EU27 new orders increased by 2.6% in November 2009, after a decrease of 1.5% in October. Excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment, for which changes tend to be more volatile, industrial new orders rose by 2.7% in the euro area and by 2.9% in the EU27.In November 2009 compared with November 2008, industrial new orders decreased by 0.5% in the euro area and by 1.2% in the EU27. Total industry excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment dropped by 0.8% in both zones.These estimates are released by Eurostat.

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Greek support package for credit institutions

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation until 30 June 2010 of the Greek support package for credit institutions. The support measures consist in a recapitalisation scheme, a guarantee scheme and support through the issuance of Greek State special purpose securities to credit institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measures, initially approved on 19 November 2008 and prolonged once on 18 September 2009 (see IP/08/1742 and MEX/09/0918 ), to be in line with its Guidance Communications on state aid to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901 ). In particular, the extended measures are limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Commission clears acquisition of Archimedes Pharma by Warburg Pincus and Novo

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Archimedes Pharma Ltd (Archimedes) of the UK by Warburg Pincus Private Equity VIII OP and Warburg Pincus International Partners LP, controlled by Warburg Pincus & Co of the US, and Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Novo) of Denmark. Warburg Pincus is a US based global private equity investor with investments focused on a range of sectors, including healthcare. Novo supports research in health science and art history primarily through the award of grants. Archimedes is a hospital-focused specialty pharmaceutical group with established commercial operations and a portfolio of products focused on oncology, pain, neurology and critical care. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

EU steps up border controls on imports of non-animal origin

As of today, all EU Member States will step up their border controls on a number of pre-listed products -ranging from peanuts to fruit and vegetables- originating from outside the EU in an effort to limit possible harm to human and animal health. These controls are foreseen in Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009 which enters into application today and provides, for the first time ever, for a set of common rules for official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin. As a result, checks on documents accompanying the consignments will be carried out systematically on these products at EU borders, while physical checks will be performed at a lower frequency. The increased level of checks is to ascertain the possible presence of a number of substances that may pose a risk to human and animal health, such as aflatoxins in nuts and pesticides in fruits and vegetables. The Commission intends to monitor regularly the implementation of this Regulation by Member States. With the experience acquired at national level and by relying on the most recent available science, the Commission will proceed to quarterly reviews of the list of concerned products to ensure that a high level of consumer and health protection is guaranteed throughout the EU. http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/controls/foodfeed/legisl_en.htm

Rediffusion

Concentrations: La Commission autorise le projet d'acquisition d'Ermewa par TLP (groupe SNCF), sous réserve du respect de certaines conditions

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement sur les concentrations de l’UE, le projet d’acquisition de la société suisse Financière Ermewa (Ermewa) par Transport et Logistique Partenaires SA (TLP) détenue par la SNCF de la France. Cette autorisation est subordonnée à la cession des activités d'Ermewa liées à la location de wagons céréaliers à déchargement axial en Europe, ainsi que de l'activité dans le secteur de l'organisation de transport ferroviaire de céréales. Compte tenu des mesures correctives proposées, la Commission a conclu que l’opération n’entraverait pas de manière significative l’exercice d’une concurrence effective dans l’Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo Factsheet on Haiti

A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration:

UTC/GE Security


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