The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Serma group by the investment fund Chequers Partenaires.
On 30 April 2018, the investment fund Chequers Partenaires notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its planned acquisition of sole control of Serma group. After an in-depth examination of the likely effects of this merger, the Autorité de la concurrence clearedthe transaction without condition.
Although the transactions notified by the investment fund pose no competition issues in general due to the fact that there is no overlapping of activities between the relevant companies, and for this reason benefit from a simplified and expedited procedure, some transactions may be accorded particular attention. This is the case where the investment fund already controls a company active in the same market or a neighbouring market to the one in which the acquired company is present. In this case, Chequers Partenaires controls a company that is active on a neighbouring market to the one on which Serma group is present, i.e., certification services.
The investment fund Chequers Capital owns a company that is active on a neighbouring market to the one on which services are provided by Serma group
Within the portfolio of companies that it controls, the investment fund Chequers Capital owns the company Fime, which is a global player in the sector for the testing and functional certification of electronic payment methods and terminals.
Serma is a French group whose service activities include the evaluation and certification of the security of electronic components and embedded software (such as those used in the manufacture of electronic payment devices).
The Autorité de la concurrence considered that these two companies were operating on neighbouring markets in the certification sector, which potentially compete for the same clients, and therefore there is a connection between these types of certification services. In light of the strong position of the company Fime on its market, the Autorité checked whether there was a risk of foreclosure or exclusion on the relevant markets.
At the end of its examination, the Autorité was able to rule out any risk of foreclosure or exclusion on the relevant markets.
Some concentrations can have restrictive effects on competition where they serve to tie, either technically or commercially, the sales of products of the new entity, thereby having the effect of foreclosing the market and excluding competitors.
In this case, although the new entity will have the ability and the incentive to implement a bundling strategy between the two types of services provided by Fime and Serma, the Autorité considered that such an offer will not lead to the foreclosure of the relevant markets or the exclusion of the competitors of the parties.
Indeed, this type of bundled offers already exists on the market and they can continue to be offered by the competitors of the parties after the transaction. The Autorité de la concurrence also notes that there are a large number of competitors in each of the relevant markets and that the clients of the parties will have credible alternatives available to them after the transaction. Lastly, the Autorité de la concurrence was able to confirm its analysis by drawing on the results of a market test of several competitors and clients of the parties, who confirmed the limited nature of the effects of a potential strategy to bundle the commercial offers of the new entity.
> The full text of the decision 18-DCC-92
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