On June 21, 2019, the Commission conditionally approved in Phase I the acquisition of L3 Technologies (“L3”) by Harris Corporation (“Harris”), both U.S. based aerospace and defence companies. The approval was subject to the divestment of Harris’s night vision devices business.[1]

The Commission looked into the transaction’s effects on competition in the EEA markets for (i) night vision devices; and (ii) hand-held video-data links businesses. For night vision devices, the Commission distinguished between image- intensification night-vision devices and image- intensification tubes, the purpose of which is to support military personnel with improved night- vision capabilities in low-light conditions. The Commission considered that the acquisition would have significantly reduced competition in these markets, where Harris and L3 compete directly with one another. The Commission accepted the parties’ offer to divest Harris’s global night vision operations to address these concerns. Second, with respect to handheld video-data links, which are used to transfer live video feed from aerial devices, the Commission found overlaps in these markets between the companies, but concluded that competition would remain sufficiently robust post-acquisition.

The Commission’s stance is similar to the position taken by its U.S. counterpart, the Department of Justice. The day before the Commission’s clearance, the Department of Justice also announced that its approval of the acquisition was subject to the divestment of Harris’s night vision business.[2]

This clearance comes in the context of possible consolidation in the defence sector. Earlier in June, two other U.S. based defence companies, United Technologies Corporation and Raytheon announced a plan to merge.

[1]      Commission Press Release IP/19/3354, “Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of L3 Technologies by Harris Corporation, subject to conditions”, June 21, 2019.

[2]      DOJ Press Release 19-690, “Justice Department Requires Harris and L3 to Divest Harris’s Night Vision Business to Proceed with Merger”, June 20, 2019.