4.12.2007   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 290/11


Final report of the Hearing Officer in Case COMP/M.4504 — SFR/Télé 2 France

(Pursuant to Articles 15 and 16 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)

(2007/C 290/10)

On 28 November 2006, the Commission received notification of a proposed concentration by which SFR SA (‘SFR’), an undertaking jointly controlled by Vivendi SA (‘Vivendi’) and Vodafone Group plc (‘Vodafone’), would acquire, within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the Merger Regulation, sole control of the Internet access and fixed telephony business of the undertaking Télé 2 France (‘Télé 2’, a subsidiary of the Télé 2 group) by way of a purchase of shares.

By Commission decision of 11 December 2006, the notification was declared incomplete. On 29 January 2007, SFR provided additional information. By letter dated 5 February 2007, the Commission informed SFR that the notification could be considered to be complete as of that date. In acordance with Article 5(2) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 802/2004, notification of the transaction became effective on 29 January 2007.

After a preliminary examination of the notification, the Commission concluded that the transaction as notified fell under the Merger Regulation and expressed serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market. Consequently, it decided on 19 March 2007 to initiate proceedings pursuant to Article 6(1)(c) of the Merger Regulation.

SFR was given access to the key documents in the file, in accordance with the Best Practices rules for merger cases, in the form of non-confidential versions of third parties' replies to the phase-one requests for information; these were provided to SFR on 30 March 2007.

Following an in-depth market investigation, the Commission took the view that the notified transaction could result in a significant weakening of competitive pressure on all the pay-TV markets in France.

In order to address the risks to competition, SFR and Vivendi submitted an initial set of commitment proposals on 26 February 2007. Having been informed that the Commission deemed this first set of proposals insufficient, they submitted further proposals on 14 March and 26 April 2007. In the light of the findings of a market survey carried out by the Commission, they then submitted the final version of the commitments on 13 June 2007.

Provided that SFR and Vivendi fully adhere to the commitments submitted on 13 June 2007, the Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction will not significantly impede effective competition in the common market or in a substantial part thereof, in particular by creating or strengthening a dominant position. Accordingly, no statement of objections was sent to the parties.

No queries or submissions have been made to me by the parties or any third party. The case does not call for any particular comments as regards the right to be heard.

Brussels, 11 July 2007.

Serge DURANDE