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Banks Acquisition of Dutch Shrimp Supplier Approved by EC

24 August 2012

EU - The European Commission (EC) has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the Dutch banks ABN AMRO, Rabobank and Friesland Bank together with the Icelandic bank Landsbanki of the Heiploeg Group, a Dutch supplier of shrimps.

The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation would not raise competition concerns because it will not significantly alter the market structure.

The Commission's investigation showed that there are no overlaps between the parties' activities in the European Economic Area (EEA), since neither ABN AMRO, Rabobank, Friesland Bank nor Landsbanki are active in the same field as the Heiploeg Group.

The Commission also analysed potential spill-over effects since ABN AMRO, Rabobank, Friesland Bank and Landsbanki are active in the markets for retail banking, corporate banking, investment banking and financial services. The Commission concluded that any coordination between ABN AMRO, Rabobank, Friesland Bank and Landsbanki which would restrict competition in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU was highly unlikely, as the joint venture only represents a small part of the parents' portfolio, and is unrelated to their core activities.

The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 18 July 2012.

Merger control rules and procedures

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 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).

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