The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has approved the takeover of HBG by BAM NBM after the parties gave assurances with regard to the sale of their interests in several asphalt plants.
The takeover will result in one of the largest construction companies in the Netherlands. After an investigation, NMa concluded that sufficient suppliers will remain after this acquisition. NMa assessed this takeover after the European Commission referred this case to NMa on 3 September 2002.
BAM NBM and HBG are active in the area of construction (civil and utility construction and hydraulic engineering and road construction), dredging, project development, consultancy, installation technology and asphalt production. NMa investigated whether a dominant position could arise or be strengthened as a result of the concentration, which would significantly obstruct competition on the Dutch market.
BAM NBM and HBG have confirmed that they will withdraw from the asphalt plants in Rotterdam and Zwijndrecht. Once the four plants of Asfalt Productie Noord-Holland B.V. (APNH) have been split amongst the shareholders, BAM NBM and HBG will no longer participate in all the plants. BAM NBM and HBG have also confirmed that the plant in Zoetermeer will close at the latest on 15 July 2003. In addition, one further asphalt plant will be closed. In the case of asphalt production, the markets are regional because the transportation of asphalt over large distances is not profitable. In NMaÂ's opinion, the merging of the existing asphalt interests of BAM NBM and HBG would have given rise to a strong market position on various regional markets.
Civil and Utility Construction (B&U) and project development
NMa conducted an investigation into the consequences of the takeover in the areas of civil and utility construction and project development. Attention was paid, in particular, to the realisation of large projects in the civil and utility construction sector. It emerged that a sufficient number of strong suppliers will remain, so that the conclusion could not be drawn that BAM NBM and HBG would acquire a dominant position in relation to these activities.
Earthworks, hydraulic engineering and road construction
NMa conducted an extensive investigation into the bid data for large projects in the area of earthworks, road construction and dry hydraulic engineering. It emerged from this that, in general, a sufficient number of companies are still active in the various market segments. It was therefore concluded that a dominant position would not emerge with regard to the realisation of large projects. The same conclusion applies to railway construction, notwithstanding the fact that this market has a high degree of concentration. The extent of HBGÂ's activities on this market is limited, so that the effect of the concentration is limited. In addition, it emerged from statements made by several customers that foreign suppliers are playing an increasing role on this market.
NMaÂ's investigation into the merging of BAM NBM and HBG did not focus on the existence of cartels. A separate team within NMa is investigating possible infringements of the prohibition on cartels within the construction sector.