Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of sports marketing group Infront by Bridgepoint


(NewDesignWorld Press Center) - Brussels - The European Commission cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Infront Sports and Media AG of Switzerland by private equity Bridgepoint Capital Group Limited of the United Kingdom. The Commission concluded that the transaction will not raise competition concerns due to the limited overlaps between the parties' activities and to the fact that sufficient alternative sources of supply will continue to be available to the merged entity's customers in all markets concerned.

Both Bridgepoint and Infront are active in the organisation of motorbike racing events (MotoGP for Bridgepoint and Superbike for Infront). The Commission examined the competitive effects of the proposed acquisition in particular in the markets for motor sport regulators (namely FIM, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, which is the regulator for both MotoGP and Superbike), teams and manufacturers, circuit owners and local promoters, advertisers and TV broadcasters.

The Commission found that the proposed transaction would give rise to certain horizontal overlaps and conglomerate relations between the parties. However, the Commission's investigation revealed that the overlaps were limited and that customers will be able to source from alternative suppliers in all markets concerned. Moreover, the Commission found that the proposed transaction would not give the merged entity the possibility to engage in tying and/or bundling against teams and manufacturers, circuit owners and local promoters, advertisers and TV broadcasters because of the existing dynamics in each of the relevant markets.

The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA1) or any substantial part of it.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 15 November 2011.

Background on companies

Bridgepoint provides private equity to companies active in a broad range of sectors worldwide. In the motorsport sector, Bridgepoint controls Dorna, a company active in the organisation and management of motorcycle racing championships, including the Moto GP championship.

Infront is a global sports media and marketing group, which holds a portfolio of media and marketing rights for different types of sports. In the motorsport sector, it holds the right to organise and manage the Superbike championship.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).
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