Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

Commissioner Kroes welcomes withdrawal of obstacles to Abertis-Autostrade merger and offer of full cooperation

Following her meeting in Brussels on November 7 with Antonio Di Pietro, Italy’s Minister for Public Works, European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes expressed her satisfaction that the Italian authorities removed what the Commission considered to be unjustified obstacles to a merger between Abertis of Spain and Autostrade of Italy. Commissioner Kroes also welcomed Mr Di Pietro’s undertaking to respect in full the EU Merger Regulation and that any further authorization measures concerning the merger would not be implemented without first obtaining the authorization of the Commission in accordance with Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation.
The Commission adopted a preliminary conclusion on 18th October that Italy violated Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation because of unjustified obstacles placed in the way of the Abertis-Autostrade merger. In particular, the Commission had serious doubts about the compatibility with Article 21 of an opinion delivered by the Ministers of Infrastructures and of Economic Affairs on August 4 2006 as well as a decision adopted on August 5 2006 by the public entity responsible for granting motorway concessions in Italy (ANAS), rejecting Autostrade’s application for authorization to merge with Abertis. Both the Ministers’opinion and the ANAS decision were withdrawn.

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Nicholas Wetzler
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nwetzler@dbmlawgroup.com