On July 2, 2019, after an in-depth investigation, the FCO approved the acquisition of German paper dealer Papyrus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (“Papyrus”) by its competitor Papier Union GmbH despite high combined market shares in the market for printing paper.[1]

The FCO found that the parties’ combined share in the printing paper market would be 40-45% and thus exceed the statutory presumption of single market dominance.[2] However, the FCO concluded that the merger would not create a single dominant position, in particular because the parties’ largest competitor, the Igepa group GmbH & Co. KG (“Igepa Group”), has an even higher market share. Further, printer companies multi-source and can easily switch suppliers. Competitors also have sufficient unused capacity to meet additional demand. Finally, the FCO considered direct paper suppliers by paper manufacturers a competitive constraint on the merged entity.

In addition, the FCO found that, together with Igepa Group, the parties would also exceed the statutory presumption threshold of collective dominance.[3] Yet, because of the changing market structure, in an overall shrinking market, and the existing external competition through direct supplies by one paper manufacturer, the FCO could not show that coordinated effects were sufficiently likely.

[1]              Papier Union/Papyrus (B5-187/18), FCO decision of July 2, 2019, only available in German here. A Press Release is available in English here.

[2]              Section 18(4) ARC provides for a rebuttable presumption of single dominance for a share of at least 40%.

[3]              Section 18(6) No. 1 ARC provides for a rebuttable presumption of collective dominance if three or fewer companies have a combined share of at least 50%; No. 2 if five or fewer companies have a combined share of at least two-thirds.