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NMa: further investigation into fertilizer market needed if Dutch farmers cooperatives Agrifirm and Cehave merge

Having conducted a preliminary investigation, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has concluded that a merger between Dutch farmers cooperatives Agrifirm and Cehave Landbouwbelang could impede competition on the market for fertilizers. The NMa has therefore ruled that a license is required for this merger to go through. If the farmers cooperatives indeed apply for a license, the NMa will then further investigate the merger's effects on competition.

Based on its preliminary investigation, the NMa has found that there could be competition problems concerning fertilizer sales to farmers and market gardeners. There may not be enough suppliers left for them in certain parts of the north of the Netherlands if the merger went through. If the merger resulted in insufficient competition, it could be disadvantageous for farmers and market gardeners. The NMa would therefore be investigating whether other fertilizer suppliers could exert enough competitive pressure on the merging undertakings.

If Agrifirm en Cehave apply for a license, the NMa must announce its decision within 13 weeks on whether the concentration is allowed or not. When reviewing mergers and acquisitions, the NMa assesses whether effective competition in the market is significantly impeded, particularly when a dominant position is created or strengthened. Such a dominant position can have negative effects on the price, quality and range of the products or services offered on the market. If such is the case, the NMa could attach conditions to the merger or it block the merger.