The European Commission has fined General Electric (GE) EUR 52 million for allegedly providing incorrect information during the Commission’s investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of GE’s planned acquisition of LM Wind Power.
On 11 January 2017, GE notified its proposed acquisition of LM Wind. In this notification, GE stated that it did not have any higher power output wind turbine for offshore applications in development, beyond its existing 6-MW turbine. However, through information collected from a third party, the Commission found that GE was simultaneously offering a 12-MW offshore wind turbine to potential customers.
The EU regulation obliges companies in a merger investigation to provide correct and non misleading information. This is considered essential for the Commission to review mergers and takeovers in a timely and effective manner.
“Our merger assessment and decision-making can only be as good as the information that we obtain to support it,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy. “Accurate information is essential for the Commission to take competition decisions in full knowledge of the facts. The fine imposed today on General Electric is proof that the Commission takes breaches of the obligation for companies to provide us with correct information very seriously.”
On February 2, 2017, GE withdrew its notification of the acquisition of LM Wind. On February 13, 2017 GE re-notified the same transaction, this time including complete information on its future project. On March 20, 2017, the Commission approved the proposed acquisition. Then, on July 6, 2017, the Commission addressed a Statement of Objections to GE alleging that it had breached its procedural obligations under the Merger Regulation.
The Commission’s investigation has confirmed that, contrary to GE’s statements in its first notification in January 2017, GE had indeed been offering a higher power output offshore wind turbine to potential customers. As a result, GE’s statement in the notification form that it had no higher power output wind turbines for offshore in development is incorrect.
However, this decision has no impact on the Commission’s approval of the transaction under EU merger rules, as this was based on rectified information from the second notification.