Europe clears acquisition of ABB's businesses by NKT
The Commission concluded that the merged entity would continue to face effective competition in Europe.
Both NKT and ABB's high voltage cable businesses develop and supply power cables and cable accessories.
In its investigation, the Commission looked at the effects on competition of the removal of one competitor, and whether the transaction would make it more likely that the remaining players could co-ordinate their competitive behaviour.
This assessment was important given the history of collusion in the industry. In 2014 the Commission found that the main producers of high voltage power cables, including NKT and ABB, were involved in a cartel aimed at restricting competition for high voltage underground and submarine power cable projects.
The producers had agreed on market and customer allocation. The cartel included Japanese and Korean producers refraining from competing for projects in the EEA, thus staying out of the European companies' home territory.
The Commission's investigation focussed on the parties' overlapping activities for high voltage power cables, in particular, on AC submarine power cables and DC submarine power cables.
These cables are used to connect transmission grids separated by water and to bring onshore the energy generated by wind farms at sea.
NKT is a potential entrant in the market for DC submarine power cables.
Based on the results of its extensive market investigation, the Commission found that the proposed acquisition would not result in a significant reduction in competition and that a number of strong competitors will remain post-transaction.
Significantly, the Commission's investigation revealed the recent and successful entry of competitors from Asia, such as LS Cables and Sumitomo.
These companies are now helping to drive and ensure competition in the high voltage cable and power cable accessories markets. ■