European Commission clears acquisition of Irish wind farm companies

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Ballyhoura Wind Limited and CCWFL Limited by UK company Arjun Alliance UK 2 LP (AAUK2) and Japanese company Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited (MUL).

Cork-based companies Ballyhoura Wind and CCWFL each hold and operate an onshore wind farm in Ireland.

AAUK2 is a limited partnership ultimately controlled by AIP Holdings, an independent infrastructure asset management business focusing on partnerships with institutional investors in the industries of regulated utilities; energy and renewables; and transportation.

MUL is a multi-service group, with activities related to, among others, leasing and finance; rental; asset management services; aviation; real estate; environment and energy; healthcare and infrastructure; and investment.

The commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the absence of overlaps between the activities of the companies.

The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Competition cases

Given the concerns about concentration in the energy markets, the European Commission has been vigilant when controlling mergers.

In 2004 the commission prohibited the proposed merger between electricity company EDP and gas company GDP in Portugal; in 2006 it imposed significant remedies in the mergers between Gaz de France (GDF) and Suez and commodities company E.On and oil/gas company MOL.

The commission has also acted when the conditions imposed by national authorities create unjustified restrictions to mergers of community dimension.

When controlling state aid to energy companies, the commission ensures that any aid is necessary and proportionate.

For example, in 2005 the commission opened the in-depth investigation procedure regarding long-term energy supply contracts in Poland and Hungary between the state and certain energy suppliers and which were advantageous for the energy suppliers.

In 2007, the commission opened the in-depth investigation procedure on the regulated electricity tariffs in Spain and in France.