HUTCHISON ALLOWED TO ACQUIRE SOLE CONTROL OF DUTCH PORT GROUP ECT
The European Commission has approved, subject to conditions, the full takeover of Rotterdam container terminal operator Europe Combined Terminals BV by the Hutchison Whampoa group of Hong Kong.
The EC said that the original takeover plan of Hutchison “would have led to the creation of a dominant position on the market for the provision in northern Europe of stevedoring services for transshipment traffic carried by deep-sea container vessels.”
Hutchison would be bigger than its three closest competitors combined — Hamburger Hafen- und Lagergesellschaft, Eurogate, both of Germany, and Hessenatie, of Belgium. Hutchison, apart from its involvement in ECT, also controls the deep-sea ports of Felixstowe and Thamesport in the U.K.
However, Hutchison has offered undertakings which will enable significant competition to emerge on the relevant market, the EC said. Hutchison has agreed to sell ECT’s 33-percent share in the Maersk Delta container terminal, a joint venture in the port of Rotterdam with the A.P. M'ller group, to an independent buyer.
It will also guarantee that sufficient capacity will be available “to enable an independent terminal operator to emerge as a serious competitor to ECT in the port of Rotterdam.”
Subject to the parties’ full compliance with the submitted undertakings, the EC has concluded that the acquisition will not lead to a dominant position on the relevant market.
In July 2001, the EC had approved Hutchison’s acquisition of a 35-percent stake in ECT.
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