EU Commission to look into Fincantieri’s takeover of Chantiers de l’Atlantique

Illustration: Chantiers de l'Atlantique was responsible for the construction of Mistral-class landing helicopter docks

The European Commission announced it would examine Fincantieri’s proposed acquisition of Chantiers de l’Atlantique (formerly known as STX France) following a request submitted by France and Germany.

The transaction could harm competition at European and global level, the commission said adding that the acquisition does not reach the turnover thresholds set by the EU Merger Regulation for transactions notifiable to the European Commission because of their European dimension.

The acquisition of the French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique by Italy’s Fincantieri started in 2016 when STX France was put up for sale after the STX Corporation declared bankruptcy in 2016. In February 2018, Fincantieri announced it had signed a share purchase agreement for the acquisition of 50% of the share capital of STX France from the French state.

The agreement would see Fincantieri (Fincantieri Europe S.p.A.) own a 50% stake, with an additional 1% borrowed from the French state. The state would retain 34.34% (of which 1% to be lent to Fincantieri) while the rest would be divided between Naval Group, STX France employees and local companies.

Competition concerns

France was the first to submit a referral request pursuant to Article 22(1) of the EU Merger Regulation which allows member states to request an inquiry into transactions that can affect trade within the single market and threaten to significantly affect competition within the territory of the member states making the request. Germany joined the referral request submitted by France.

“On the basis of the information provided by France and Germany, and without prejudice to the outcome of its exhaustive investigation, the Commission considers that the transaction could significantly harm competition in shipbuilding, in particular in the global cruise ship market. The Commission also concluded that it was best placed to examine the potential cross-border effects of the transaction. Therefore the acquisition of Chantiers de l’Atlantique by Fincantieri will be fully examined by the Commission,” the EU commission said.

Both Fincantieri and Chantiers de l’Atlantique are active in commercial and naval shipbuilding sectors with the latter being the only shipyard in France capable of constructing large ships like aircraft- and helicopter carriers.

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