Dow acquired DuPont to form the world’s largest chemical company. Many commentators predicted that this would raise competition concerns. The legal advisers to the parties had already identified overlaps, but DG Competition raised new concerns that a consequence of the merger could be to hamper innovation “as a whole”.
This new focus on innovation had to be tested internally within the European Commission but DG Competition seemed determined to defend its theory. Media commentary led by the Brussels specialist regulatory media was also increasingly speculating about a possible block on the transaction.
The FIPRA Approach
FIPRA’s role was to provide feedback and intelligence throughout the merger review process; assist in arranging meetings with audiences at both official at Commissioner/Cabinet level; help mobilise stakeholders in support of the merging parties; including in the context of an Oral Hearing held on the case; and to help manage the media speculation.
Our feedback indicated that DG Competition was serious about its concerns, but was prepared to see a solution with undertakings involving the disposal of R&D assets rather than a full block.
The transaction was duly approved subject to divestures.