Today the General Court of the European Union (GCEU) upheld E.ON’s acquisition of RWE’s power distribution business. The Court struck out multiple challenges to the merger clearance issued by the European Commission, which was represented before the General Court by the international law firm Osborne Clarke.
Today's judgements confirm the multi-billion asset swap between the German energy giants. E.ON acquires the energy distribution and retail businesses as well as certain generation assets so far held by RWE's subsidiary Innogy SE. The EU Commission had cleared the transaction subject to conditions. It blessed the deal because commitments from E.ON ensure that it would not lead to less choice or higher prices in the countries in which these energy companies operate, commented EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at the time of the clearance decision.
Several German energy suppliers, including the municipal utilities from Frankfurt and Leipzig and EVH GmbH from Halle/Saale, took legal action against the Commission’s merger clearance in an attempt to stop the transaction (case no. T-53/21 et seq.).
In May of this year, the GCEU had already dismissed the actions brought by eleven German energy suppliers against the acquisition of E.ON power plants by RWE, thus confirming the first part of the asset swap between the two Essen-based energy companies. Today's decisions confirm the second part of the asset swap, which the Commission had examined in depth.
The European Commission was represented before the GCEU by Osborne Clarke partners Dr Thomas Funke (competition law) and Dr Alexander Dlouhy (energy law).
The rulings promote investment security in the European energy industry and confirm the diligent work of the competition authorities. Today's decisions also clarify when third parties may challenge a merger clearance in the EU.
The decisions bring clarity for the industry, which is to be welcomed in times of change. The decisions of the GCEU could be appealed to the CJEU.
Eight energy suppliers whose third-party complaints the GCEU rejected today were represented by lawyers Dr Ines Zenke and Dr Tigran Heymann from the law firm Becker Büttner Held