Mergers in the shipbuilding sector. The Commission examines the proposed acquisition of Chantiers de l’Atlantique by Fincantieri

On 30 October 2019, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Chantiers de l’Atlantique by Fincantieri, under the EU Merger Regulation. The transaction was notified to the Commission on 25 September 2019. However, the latter accepted a request of assessment from France and Germany already in January, since they feared that, despite not having an EU dimension, it affected trade within the single market significantly for competition.

Following the concerns expressed by the two member States the Commission fears that, in an already concentrated and capacity constrained market such as the global cruise shipbuilding one, the transaction may remove the influence exerted by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. In particular, the Commission has preliminarily concluded that it is unlikely that a timely and credible entry from other shipbuilders would counteract the possible negative effects of the transaction, which may therefore significantly reduce competition in the market for cruise shipbuilding, leading to higher prices, less choice and reduced incentives to innovate. The critical issues of the market, indeed, stem from the very complex nature of cruise shipbuilding, which requires specific infrastructure as well as established engineering and design capabilities. 

Both Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Fincantieri have decided not to submit commitments during the initial investigation to address the Commission’s preliminary concerns, which now has 90 working days to determine whether the transaction is likely to significantly reduce effective competition. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. 

Marco Stillo