ACM conditionally clears the merger between Dutch supermarket chains Plus and Coop
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has conditionally cleared the merger between Dutch supermarket chains Plus and Coop. ACM has attached the condition that 12 supermarket locations must be sold to a competitor, so that sufficient competition will remain in the market and that consumers will continue to have sufficient options in their neighborhoods.
Together, the two supermarket chains operate approximately 600 supermarket locations. In addition, Plus has a stake in supermarket chain Spar. As a result, the total number of supermarket locations of Plus and Coop reaches approximately 1,000 locations.
ACM does not see any anticompetitive concerns emerging at the national level. Strong competitors such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo remain active in the market. Furthermore, after the merger and the sale of the 12 supermarket locations, other supermarkets will continue to exert sufficient competitive pressure. As such, consumers will continue to have sufficient options, and the merger will not result in higher prices or reduced quality of services.
Selling twelve supermarkets in order to maintain competition
With regard to 12 small, rural towns, ACM did identify possible anticompetitive concerns as a result of the merger because of too few competitor supermarkets (or even none at all) nearby. That is why Plus and Coop will sell supermarket locations in Harmelen, Hollandscheveld, Rolde, Ruurlo, Stolwijk, Terborg, Wehl, Groot Ammers, Wekerom, Ravenstein, Uddel, and the northern island of Vlieland. As a result thereof, consumers will continue to have sufficient alternatives in these areas. Under these conditions, the merger can go through.
ACM’s concentration control: mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures
ACM enforces compliance with the rules among businesses so that they compete fairly with each other, and it prevents abuses of dominant positions. If businesses have plans for a merger or an acquisition, ACM assesses in advance whether or not those businesses together gain too much power. In that way, ACM protects competition and consumers, and it ensures that markets work well for people and businesses, now and in the future.