Railway contact lines. The Commission approves Bouygues’ acquisition of Equans

On 19 July 2022, the Commission approved, under the EU Merger RegulationBouygues‘ acquisition of Equans, notified on 30 May 2022, provided that Bouygues fully complies with the commitments offered.

Bouygues and Equans, both based in France, are global providers of multi-technical and engineering services for a wide range of sectors. More particularly, Bouygues (via Colas Rail Belgium) and Equans are two of the leading providers of installation and maintenance services for railway contact lines in Belgium, that is transmission systems for supplying trains with electric power through, in most cases, overhead lines suspended above the locomotives.

According to the Commission the transaction, as originally notified, could have reduced competition in a market characterised by significant barriers to entry, with the merged entity having very large market shares and only facing competition from very few participants in calls for tenders, which would give rise to higher prices for electrical engineering services for railway contact lines in Belgium.

In order to address the Commission’s concerns, Bouygues offered to divest Colas Rail Belgium in its entirety, which will therefore remain an independent competitor in the relevant market in Belgium. Upon full compliance with the commitments, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would no longer raise competition concerns in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Marco Stillo