The Higher Regional Court in Vienna, acting as the Austrian Cartel Court, has cleared the METRO Cash & Carry Österreich GmbH (“METRO Austria”) acquisition of REWE Group wholesale business known as C & C Abholgroßmärkte Gesellschaft m.b.H. (“AGM”) in Phase II subject to commitments.
METRO Austria is part of METRO AG, a leading international player in wholesale trading. In Austria, the company operates twelve stationary wholesale stores (“Cash & Carry”) but also offers delivery services to its customers. Likewise, AGM is primarily active in wholesale trading and provides integrated pick-up and delivery services.
METRO Austria takes over AGM with nine C&C stores including the delivery business associated with the operating locations, as well as AGM’s company headquarters. The clearance decision is subject to METRO Austria implementing certain court orders for two of the nine AGM stores.
After a market investigation in Phase I, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (“FCA”) raised concerns about the impact of the transaction on the competitive dynamics in the Austrian wholesale market in which both parties are active. The FCA thus initiated an in-depth investigation of the transaction led by the Cartel Court (Phase II).
As part of the Phase II investigation, the Cartel Court has primarily assessed the appropriateness of the established market definition for wholesale trading by the FCA, which – amongst other dimensions – foresaw a separation of wholesale markets between pick-up and delivery services.
At the end of Phase II, the Cartel Court ultimately concluded that pick-up and delivery services belong to a common wholesale market in Austria today, representing a revision of the FCA’s previous assessment.
A Frontier team from Cologne, Berlin and London advised METRO Austria in Phase II of the merger clearance process.
You can read the FCA’s press release here (in German).
Frontier Economics regularly advises clients on the merger clearance process across European jurisdictions.
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