GE Accused of Breaching EU Antitrust Rules

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BRUSSELS, Belgium — GE was charged by the European Commission with providing misleading R&D information related to its takeover of Danish rotor blade maker LM Wind, which was approved by the EU in March.

According to a statement on the European Commission website dated July 6:

The Commission has informed the U.S. company General Electric (GE) of its preliminary conclusion that the company provided incorrect or misleading information during the Commission's investigation of GE's planned acquisition of LM Wind. The transaction was first notified to the Commission on 11 January 2017. In today's Statement of Objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that GE submitted incorrect or misleading information in this notification.

When reviewing GE's planned acquisition of LM Wind, the Commission had to carefully assess the competitive landscape and GE's position on the onshore and offshore wind turbine markets. GE failed to provide information to the Commission concerning its research and development activities and the development of a specific product.

The missing information had consequences not only for the Commission's assessment of GE's acquisition of LM Wind but also for the assessment of Siemens' acquisition of Gamesa. This was a separate transaction in the wind turbine market, which was investigated by the Commission at the same time. The information was necessary to properly assess, in both cases, the future position of GE and the competitive landscape on the markets for wind turbines.

On 2 February 2017, GE withdrew its notification of the merger with LM Wind. On 13 February 2017 GE re-notified the same transaction. This second notification included the information on the future project, which had not been in the original one. This allowed the Commission to have a full picture of the wind turbines market.

The Commission cleared the re-notified GE – LM Wind transaction on 20 March 2017 and the Siemens – Gamesa transaction on 13 March 2017, in both cases without requiring commitments.

If the Commission were to conclude that GE intentionally or negligently supplied incorrect or misleading information by not informing the Commission of all relevant product developments, it could impose a fine of up to 1% of GE's annual worldwide turnover.

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