European and Swedish Antitrust News (Mar 30, 2020)

Nynäshamn LNG terminal.
Photo: Jan Arrhénborg

The SCA has approved Gasum’s acquisition of some of Linde AG’s assets after a commitment to 3rd party access to the LNG-terminal in Nynäshamn, in what has been described as a “phase-one-and-a-half-investigation”. The SCA has also approved the Easypark-‘SMS park’-merger on market entry possibilities and has filed a report evaluating 10 years of legislation against anti-competitive activities by public entities, PTS is ordering a railway construction to coordinate with Skanova, and the Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework for COVID-19 state aid.

SCA approves Gasum’s acquisition of Lidingö Clean Gas and Nauticor. After what has been described as a “phase-one-and-a-half-investigation”, the Swedish Competition Authority approved the sales of some of Linde AG’s assets to Gasum. The investigation went on for 55 working days, far beyond the time limit of 20 working days, at the request of the parties as they submitted a voluntary commitment to allow 3rd party access to an LNG-terminal in Nynäshamn for 10 years. The LNG market in Sweden is relatively small as it’s mainly used by a few large industrial customers, and there are only two import terminals for LNG, one in Lysekil controlled by Gasum and the one in Nynäshamn controlled by Lidingö Clean Gas.

SCA approves Easypark and ‘SMS Park’ merger. Easypark, who operates a leading digital app for parking in Europe, has acquired Inteleon Holding AB, which operated the digital parking solution business ‘SMS Park’ used in 260 cities in Sweden and with almost 2 million users. The Swedish Competition Authority initiated a special investigation in January of the merger which initially wasn’t notified as it didn’t meet the revenue threshold. Despite finding that Easypark and ‘SMS Park’ are very close competitors and that only Parkster is a remaining competitor, the SCA has now decided to approve the merger on the reasoning that parking operators don’t appear to be concerned by the merger and could easily enter the downstream market for digital parking payment solutions themselves.

The Commission adopts Temporary Framework for COVID-19 state aid. To enable Member States to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak, the Commission will temporarily allow direct grants, state guarantees, subsidies loans, safeguards for banks and short-term export credit insurance. Following the decision on the temporary framework, the Commission has also approved of several state aid schemes.

The Swedish Transport Administration ordered to cooperate with Skanova on optic fiber. Under a Swedish law to support build-out of optic fiber networks, other infrastructure projects are obliged to offer co-ordination with investments in fiber optics. As the construction of a new railway is about to start, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has now ordered that it must allow Skanova, a subsidiary of Telia Company, to co-construct a new fiber optic cable.

Competition between public and private entities has improved, but challenges remain. A new report by the Swedish Competition Authority evaluates the 10 years since the introduction of legislation against anti-competitive activities by public entities and finds that problems have decreased, despite the lack of legal precedents achieved by the SCA. However, the report also notes that urban areas still experience many problems with municipal entities and that complaints about state-owned entities have increased. Municipalities are therefore recommended to have a policy or guidelines on work with competition matters and the SCA might put more focus on state-owned entities.

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