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Bundeskartellamt clears acquisition of glass recycling companies by the Rethmann group

Date of issue: 04.08.2017

The Bundeskartellamt has cleared plans by the Rethmann group to acquire two glass recycling companies, G.R.I.-Glasrecycling NV (Lummen, Belgium) and VSB Holding NV (Lummen, Belgium). The companies are sold by the Belgian family Vanswartenbrouck.

In Germany, the companies are active in the recycling of waste glass. In particular, they operate a glass recycling facility in the city of Dormagen in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rhenus group, which belongs to the Rethmann group, operates eight facilities (three of which are operated by joint ventures) and is the market leader with the largest recycling capacities in Germany.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "Together, the companies reach very high market shares in the region concerned. They have a strong lead over their small and medium-sized competitors of which there are only a few. Ultimately, we still had to clear the acquisition, however, because the market affected is a de-minimis market."

According to the Bundeskartellamt's investigations, there are two waste glass categories (hollow glass and flat glass) which need to be assessed separately. Hollow glass are bottles and other containers, flat glass are glass panes. In its investigations, the Bundeskartellamt focused, in particular, on the recycling of hollow glass cullet. The relevant geographic market around the Dormagen facility mainly covers parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, but also bordering regions in Belgium and the Netherlands from where substantial quantities of cullet are imported for recycling in Germany. On this market, the parties to the merger reach market shares of far more than 40 percent, which is the statutory threshold for assuming market dominance.

The investigations revealed, however, that the turnover generated on the domestic part of the market in the previous calendar year was less than 15 million euros. The market is therefore a de-minimis market, which made it impossible to prohibit the concentration on account of competition concerns.

On the other affected markets the concentration did not give rise to any significant competition concerns. The same is true for the distribution of recycled hollow glass cullet to glass manufacturers which use it as a raw material. In this area the parties to the merger are faced with a strong competitor, the company Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland GmbH, which is the largest supplier of recycled cullet in Germany.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "For some time now we have been witnessing a growing concentration on various waste disposal markets. In our current sector inquiry we will focus in particular on the collection of household waste to identify possible problems and analyse how competition in this area can be improved."

Press release (pdf)

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