FCCA to further investigate competition effects of acquisition between SOK and Stockmann Delicatessen

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) will begin further proceedings concerning the acquisition of Stockmann Group’s Delicatessen business by Suomen Osuuskauppojen Keskuskunta (SOK), HOK-Elanto Liiketoiminta Oy, Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa, Turun osuuskauppa and Meira Nova Oy.

The parties to the acquisition are active on both the retail and purchasing markets of the grocery sector. SOK, or the Central Finnish Cooperative Society, is part of S Group and engages in the promotion and development of the business activities of cooperatives and other organisations belonging to the Group, while directing and supervising the efficient use of the Group’s resources in general. HOK-Elanto, Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa and Turun Osuuskauppa are regional cooperatives engaged in the grocery business within the Prisma and S-market chains. In addition, HOK-Elanto sells groceries through the Alepa chain and the Turun and Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa cooperatives do so via the Sale chain. Meira Nova is a subsidiary wholly owned by SOK, which provides grocery purchasing and logistics services for hotel, restaurant and catering establishments. Stockmann Delicatessen sells groceries in six department stores in Finland.

On the basis of a preliminary investigation, the FCCA concludes that the acquisition could lead to harmful competition effects in the retail and purchasing market for groceries, and believes there are grounds for examining the matter in a further, detailed investigation.

In its further investigation, the FCCA will examine whether the planned acquisition significantly impedes effective competition on the Finnish market, or a key segment of the market. The FCCA may approve the acquisition as such, attach conditions to the approval or request that the Finnish Market Court prohibit the acquisition. According to the Competition Act, the further proceedings may not take longer than three months.

The FCCA’s decision includes business secrets of the parties involved. The decision cannot be published until the business secrets have been removed, i.e. in around two weeks’ time.

Further details: Sanna Syrjälä, Head of Research, tel. +358 29 505 3385; Laura Kauppila, Senior Research Officer, tel. +358 29 505 3335, firstname.lastname@kkv.fi

According to the Competition Act, the FCCA must be notified of the transaction if the combined turnover of the parties to the corporate transaction exceeds 350 million euros and the turnover from Finland of at least two of the parties exceeds a combined total of 20 million euros. The FCCA will approve a corporate transaction if it has none of the harmful impacts referred to in the Competition Act. The FCCA will intervene in corporate transactions if its investigations suggest that the acquisition substantially impedes effective competition on Finnish markets or a substantial part of the markets, particularly through the creation or reinforcement of a dominant market position. Where necessary, notifications of acquisitions are considered in two stages. The so-called first stage takes a month at most. If the acquisition is clearly not harmful to competition, or if the harmful effects can be prevented by means proposed by the parties to the acquisition, the acquisition is approved during the first stage. If not, the FCCA decides to conduct a further investigation of the matter, during which the acquisition and its competition effects are investigated in further detail.18