Mergers: Commission welcomes Court judgment on Dutch joint venture CVK

20 octobre 2021 Pierre Perrin-Monlouis

The European Commission welcomes today’s judgment of the European Court of Justice regarding CVK, the former sand lime joint venture of the German Haniel group and Dutch firm Cementbouw in the Netherlands. The Court rejected Cementbouw’s appeal against an earlier judgement of the Court of First Instance that had upheld the Commission’s assessment of this case. According to the Commission’s original decision from 2003, the acquisition of control over CVK by Haniel and Cementbouw had led to the creation of a dominant position in the market for wall building materials. Following the Commission’s decision, CVK was dissolved into two competing groups, owned by Haniel and Cementbouw, respectively.

Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The main result of the Commission’s involvement is that there are nowadays more groups competing in the supply for sand-lime products, the most important wall building material in the Netherlands, instead of only one (CVK). This is a positive development for the Dutch construction industry and for Dutch home owners. I am glad the European Court of Justice as well as the Court of First Instance followed us in our assessment of the case”.

Haniel and Cementbouw acquired control of CVK in 1999. In 2003, the Commission assessed the operation under the EC Merger Regulation, after it had been brought to its attention shortly before. The Commission came to the conclusion that in taking control over CVK, Haniel and Cementbouw obtained a dominant position on the Dutch market for wall building materials for load-bearing walls, with a market share in excess of 50 %.

Following the Commission’s decision in 2003, CVK was dissolved into two competing groups, owned by Haniel and Cementbouw, respectively. The first now operates as Xella Nederland and sells sand lime products under the name SILKA. Cementbouw’s sand lime operations were subsequently taken over by the Irish company CRH. It operates under the name Calduran Kalkzandsteen.

Even though Haniel and Cementbouw implemented the Commission’s decision, Cementbouw appealed against it to the Court of First Instance (CFI). In February 2006, the CFI rejected the appeal, stating the Commission was right in its assessment of the competition impact of the operation, as well as in insisting that competition be restored by dissolving CVK. Cementbouw lodged a further appeal to the Court of Justice, in which it only criticised the CFI’s analysis with regard to the remedy, i.e. the dissolution of CVK. The Court of Justice has now confirmed that the CFI – and hence the Commission’s decision – was correct also in this respect.

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