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Aurubis/Metallo unconditionally cleared by European Commission after issuing Statement of Objections 06.05.20

On 4 May 2020 the European Commission unconditionally cleared the acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis, following an in-depth Phase II investigation. The transaction brings together the two market leaders in the refining of copper scrap in the EEA.

The Commission cleared the transaction unconditionally, despite having issued a Statement of Objections that preliminarily concluded that the transaction was likely to result in a significant impediment to effective competition. The Aurubis/Metallo merger is only the second unconditional clearance after formal objections under Vestaeger’s tenure as Commissioner, after Tele2 NL/ T-Mobile NL in 2018.

The investigation focused on novel theories of harm, which posited that the merger would increase buyer power and lower the prices the Parties pay for copper scrap, thereby discouraging the recycling of copper and raising manufacturing costs. Following the Parties’ response to the SO and an Oral Hearing, these theories of harm were ultimately discarded. Despite the merger bringing together the two market leaders in the refining of copper scrap in the EEA, the Commission reversed its initial findings, presented in the SO, to conclude that the Parties’ combined market shares would remain moderate post-transaction, that there would remain a large number of alternative purchasers of copper scrap inside and outside the EEA, and that the Parties did not compete closely pre-transaction.

RBB Economics advised the Parties during Phase II of the Commission’s investigation, alongside Baker McKenzie and Sidley Austin. The Commission’s press statement can be found here.