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European Commission Has Concerns About Cargill and ADM’s Proposed Chocolate Merger

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European Commission Has Concerns About Cargill and ADM’s Proposed Chocolate Merger

European Commission Has Concerns About Cargill and ADM’s Proposed Chocolate Merger
February 25
09:52 2015

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of the industrial chocolate business of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) by Cargill is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Both US-based companies supply industrial chocolate as well as fat-based coatings and fillings.

Industrial chocolate, which is sold in liquid or solid form, is used by customers in the food processing industry to produce end-consumer products. Customers of industrial chocolate include producers of biscuits, ice-cream, chocolate confectionery and other end-consumer products.

The Commission’s preliminary investigation showed potential competition concerns in the supply of industrial chocolate to customers in Germany and the UK. The Commission found that Cargill, ADM and Barry Callebaut are the main suppliers of industrial chocolate to customers in these markets. The investigation also revealed that several smaller competitors for the supply of industrial chocolate have a more limited presence and do not pose a sufficient competitive constraint on the parties. The proposed transaction could eliminate an important competitor and reduce the choice of suitable suppliers in already concentrated markets, which could lead to price increases.

The proposed transaction does not include the activities of ADM in semi-finished chocolate products such as cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

The Commission now has 90 working days, until 8 July 2015, to investigate the proposed acquisition in-depth and determine whether these initial concerns are correct. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 19 January 2015.

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