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Daily News of 2014-09-03

European Commission - MEX/14/0903   03/09/2014

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EXME 14 / 03.09

DAILY NEWS

03 / 09 / 14

Antitrust: Commission fines smart card chips producers € 138 million for cartel

The European Commission has found that Infineon, Philips, Samsung and Renesas (at the time a joint venture of Hitachi and Mitshubishi) coordinated their market behaviour for smart card chips in the European Economic Area (EEA), in breach of EU rules that prohibit cartels. The Commission has imposed fines totalling € 138 048 000. The companies colluded through bilateral contacts that took place in the period between September 2003 and September 2005. Renesas benefitted from full immunity under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice for revealing the existence of the cartel to the Commission.

Boost for promotion of EU agricultural products as medium-term response to Russian embargo

The Commission has today confirmed its intention to provide an additional €30 million of EU funding for CAP promotion programmes starting in 2015, on top of the €60 million that is foreseen annually in the CAP budget. As these schemes are co-funded, this change is likely to mean an additional 60 million EURO for promotion measures. Aimed at alleviating the impact of the Russian measures against certain EU agricultural products, this additional effort will start with the promotion programmes that need to be submitted by the end of September. Confirming this step, EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Dacian Cioloș stated today: "Promotion programmes are one of the CAP instruments which can be used over the medium term to address the market difficulties expected in several sectors as a result of the Russian ban, helping producers to find new sales outlets within and outside the EU. Today's change means that €60 million of EU funding is available for promotion projects submitted by the end of this month. As this is co-funded by the promotion organisations themselves, this means that schemes worth at least €120 million could start running in 2015. I strongly encourage agricultural organisations to make the most of this opportunity and to present ambitious promotion schemes in the coming weeks".

See also MEMO/14/517 on the potential impact of the Russian measures and EU response so far.

Other news

Commission to participate in Ambrosetti Forum, 5-7 September

President Barroso and other members of the Commission will participate in the 40th edition of the Ambrosetti Forum, organized by the renowned Think-Tank "The European House – Ambrosetti" and held this year under the title “Intelligence on the World, Europe and Italy”. The workshop offers Italian and international decision-makers the opportunity for high-level examination of geopolitical, economic, technological and social scenarios and their implications for business. This year, the European Commission will be represented by President Barroso as well as Vice President Almunia, responsible for Competition, Vice President Barnier, responsible for Internal Market and Services, Vice President Katainen, responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and Commissioner for Trade De Gucht. President Barroso will give a key note speech, entitled “The Future of Europe: Delivering Reform”.

July 2014 compared with June 2014: Volume of retail trade down by 0.4% in both euro area and EU28

In July 2014 compared with June 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade fell by 0.4% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In June retail trade increased by 0.3% in both zones. In July 2014 compared with July 2013, the retail sales index increased by 0.8% in the euro area and by 1.0% in the EU28.

Baltic Sea: Commission confirms sustainability of herring stocks and proposes increased fishing opportunities for 2015

For the first time under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the European Commission today tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities for the main commercial fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2015. Since some of the fish stocks are now fished at sustainable levels, the total allowable catch (TAC) will increase by 12% when compared to 2014 and will be set at approximately 629 000 tonnes. An average increase by 31% is proposed for four herring stocks, while decreases are proposed for the western cod stock (–48%), sprat (–17%) and two salmon stocks (–15%). If the Council, in its October meeting, adopts the catch limits as proposed by the Commission, the number of stocks fished at sustainable level could double in the Baltic in 2015 from three to six stocks, according to scientists.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of HES Beheer by Riverstone and Carlyle

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of H.E.S. Beheer N.V. (via Hestya Energy B.V.) of the Netherlands, by funds managed by affiliates of Riverstone Holdings LLC and of the Carlyle Group, both of the United States. H.E.S. is a holding company for operating companies providing logistical services in ports and Hestya is engaged in the development of European dry and liquid bulk terminals. Riverstone is an energy and power focused investment firm while Carlyle is a global alternative asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the limited combined market shares. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7368 .

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Gina Tricot by Nordic Capital

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Gina Tricot of Sweden by Nordic Capital of Jersey. Gina Tricot is the parent company of the Gina Tricot Group, active in the sale of women's fashion, accessories and cosmetics, mainly in Northern Europe. Nordic Capital is a private equity fund, which has a controlling ownership in several portfolio companies, active in a wide range of sectors, including retail sales of consumer goods. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the parties' moderate combined market positions resulting from the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure following a referral pursuant to Article 4(5) of the Merger Regulation. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7314 .


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