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EC clears ABN AMRO & Rabobank buyout of clothing firm HVEG
Nov '12
The European Commission (EC) has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the Dutch banks ABN AMRO and Rabobank of controlling stakes in HVEG, a Dutch wholesale company specialized in clothing and accessories.

HVEG is currently controlled by Vecelia which is itself a holding company for a private individual. Vecelia will exercise joint control over HVEG along with the two Dutch banks after the transaction. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.

The Commission's investigation showed that there are no overlaps between the parties' activities in the European Economic Area (EEA), since neither ABN AMRO nor Rabobank are active in the same field as HVEG.

The Commission also analysed potential spill-over effects, since ABN AMRO and Rabobank are active in the markets for retail banking, corporate banking, investment banking and financial services. The Commission concluded that any coordination between ABN AMRO and Rabobank which would restrict competition was highly unlikely, as the joint venture only represents a small part of the parents' portfolio, and is unrelated to their core activities.

The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 23 October 2012.

Companies and products

HVEG is a Dutch international wholesale company specialised in women's, men's and children's clothing and accessories. HVEG's clothing is sold under private labels by large retailers and members of purchasing combinations throughout Europe.

ABN AMRO and Rabobank are Dutch financial institutions active in the Netherlands and internationally.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

European Commission (EC)

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