Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Press Release - Assessment of the notified concentration ANEK-ATTICA GROUP

Subject: Assessment of the notified concentration, pursuant to Article 8 of Law. 3959/2011, which concerns the merger by absorption of the company “ANEK LINES S.A.” with the distinctive title “ANEK” by the company “ATTICA HOLDINGS S.A.” with the distinctive title “ATTICA GROUP”.

The Plenary Session of HCC will convene on July 12, 2023, to assess, following the relevant Rapporteur’s Opinion, the notified concentration, pursuant to Article 8 of Law 3959/2011, which concerns the merger by absorption of the company “ANEK LINES S.A.” with the distinctive title “ANEK”, by the company “ATTICA HOLDINGS S.A.” with the distinctive title “ATTICA GROUP”.

ATTICA GROUP is a holding company and operates, through its subsidiaries, mainly in maritime transport services for passengers and vehicles on domestic shipping routes, on international shipping routes between Greece and Italy and between Morocco and Continental Europe.

ANEK operates in maritime transport services for passengers and vehicles on domestic and international maritime routes between Greece and Italy.

According to the Rapporteur’s Opinion, the proposed concentration may significantly impede competition, in particular through the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, in the relevant markets of maritime transport services for passengers, cars and trucks in some “point of origin/point of destination” ports in Crete and the Adriatic, as it is considered that there are potential non-coordinated and coordinated effects in these routes in which the above undertakings operate.

Also, according to the Rapporteur’s Opinion, the concentration is not expected to significantly impede competition in the relevant markets for the provision of maritime transport services for passengers, cars and trucks in Greece and in the market for the provision of maritime transport services through public service obligation contracts. Additionally, no vertical relationships are identified.

According to the Guidelines on the assessment of horizontal mergers under the Council Regulation on the control of concentrations between undertakings, the Commission may decide that an otherwise problematic merger is nevertheless compatible with the common market if one of the merging parties is a failing firm. The basic requirement is that the deterioration of the competitive structure that follows the merger cannot be said to be caused by the merger. This will arise where the competitive structure of the market would deteriorate to at least the same extent in the absence of the merger. The Commission considers the following three criteria to be especially relevant for the application of a "failing firm defence": 

  • the allegedly failing firm would in the near future be forced out of the market because of financial difficulties if not taken over by another undertaking, 
  • there is no less anti-competitive alternative purchase than the notified merger,
  • in the absence of a merger, the assets of the failing firm would inevitably exit the market.

Based on the Rapporteur’s Opinion, the abovementioned conditions for the application of the failing firm defence are fulfilled, since the competitive structure of the market would deteriorate to at least the same extent in the absence of the merger and consequently the deterioration of the competitive structure that follows the merger cannot be said to be caused by the merger.

With respect to the above, the Rapporteur proposes the approval by the HCC of the notified concentration which concerns the merger by absorption of the company “ANEK LINES S.A.” with the distinctive title “ANEK” by the company “ATTICA HOLDINGS S.A.” with the distinctive title “ATTICA GROUP”.

The Rapporteur’s Proposal is not binding on the HCC, which will decide on the basis of the available facts and the views of the parties during the hearing process.

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