8 January 2021 (published in English on 13 January 2021)
The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) has initiated further proceedings regarding the merger between Altia Oyj and Arcus ASA.
The parties to the transaction are alcoholic beverage companies that mainly manufacture, import and distribute spirits and wines. Altia is a Finnish company that is primarily active in the Nordic countries. Arcus is a Norwegian company that operates mainly in the Nordic countries and Germany.
In the first phase of its investigation, the FCCA has consulted a wide range of competitors, customers and suppliers via requests for statements and information. Based on its preliminary analysis, the FCCA considers that the transaction may result in high combined market shares, particularly in certain categories of strong alcoholic beverages sold via the main retail channel, i.e. sales to the national monopoly Alko. The FCCA will also further investigate the possible effects of the merger in other distribution channels, namely regards the sales of alcoholic beverages to hotel, restaurant and catering customers and via the duty free / travel retail channel.
During its in-depth investigation, the FCCA will assess whether the acquisition will significantly harm effective competition in Finland. As a result, the FCCA may approve the merger unconditionally, approve it subject to conditions, or propose that the Market Court prohibits the transaction. The second phase of the proceedings may take a maximum of 69 working days. The Market Court may extend the deadline further by at most 46 working days.
The transaction has also been notified to the Swedish and Norwegian competition authorities, who have both opened an in-depth investigation into the matter.
The FCCA’s decision to open the in-depth investigation contains confidential business secrets of the parties. The decision cannot be made public until after the business secrets have been removed, or in about two weeks’ time.
Lauri Kirkkola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 505 3073
Mikko Heinonen, Head of Research, tel. +358 29 505 3162
According to the Competition Act, a merger must be notified to the FCCA if the combined turnover of the parties to the concentration exceeds 350 million euros and the turnover of at least two of the parties resulting from Finland exceeds 20 million euros for both. The FCCA approves the merger provided that it will not result in any of the negative effects mentioned in the Competition Act. The FCCA will intervene in the merger if its investigation concludes that the merger would significantly impede effective competition on the Finnish markets or a substantial part thereof, in particular as a result of the creation or strengthening of a dominant position. If required, the merger investigation is carried out in two phases. The first phase lasts a maximum of 23 working days. If it is clear that the merger will not have any negative effects on competition or if the negative effects can be prevented through the conditions proposed by the parties involved, the merger is approved after this initial review. If this is not the case, the FCCA makes the decision to investigate the matter further in the second phase of the proceedings during which the merger and its competition effects are comprehensively examined.
Read more about merger control.