US energy giant General Electric was fined €52 million by the European Commission on 8 April for providing incorrect information during the Commission’s investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of GE’s planned acquisition of LM Wind, the EU’s competition chief said.
“Our merger assessment and decision-making can only be as good as the information that we obtain to support it,” EU Competition Policy Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, adding that accurate information is essential for the Commission to take competition decisions in full knowledge of the facts. “The fine imposed today (8 April) on General Electric is proof that the Commission takes breaches of the obligation for companies to provide us with correct information very seriously,” she added.
The EU Merger Regulation obliges companies in a merger investigation to provide correct and non-misleading information. According to the Commission, on 11 January 2017, GE notified its proposed acquisition of LM Wind. In this notification, GE stated that it did not have any higher power output wind turbine for offshore applications in development, beyond its existing 6 MW turbine.
However, through information collected from a third party, the Commission found that GE was simultaneously offering a 12 MW offshore wind turbine to potential customers, the Commission said in a press release.
As a result on 2 February 2017, GE withdrew its notification of the acquisition of LM Wind. On 13 February 2017 GE re-notified the same transaction, this time including complete information on its future project. On 20 March 2017, the Commission approved the proposed acquisition. On 6 July 2017, the Commission addressed a Statement of Objections to GE alleging that it had breached its procedural obligations under the Merger Regulation.
The Commission’s investigation has confirmed that, contrary to GE’s statements in its first notification in January 2017, GE had indeed been offering a higher power output offshore wind turbine to potential customers, the press release read. As a result, GE’s statement in the notification form that it had no higher power output wind turbines for offshore in development is incorrect.