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C 36/6

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

10.2.2004

Final report of the Hearing Officer in Case COMP/M.3056 — Celanese/Degussa/JV (European oxo Chemicals) (pursuant to Article 15 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings (OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)) (2004/C 36/06)
(Text with EEA relevance)

The draft decision gives rise to the following observations: The proposed concentration was notified under the Merger Regulation to the Commission by Celanese Chemicals Europe GmbH (‘Celanese’), a subsidiary of Celanese AG, and Oxeno Olefinchemie GmbH (‘Oxeno’), a subsidiary of Degussa AG (‘Degussa’ on 18 December 2002. On 30 January 2003 proceedings were initiated under Article 6(1)(c) of the Regulation. The parties were given access to the most important submissions on which the Commission based its serious doubts. This is an important feature of the transparency policy that the Commission is currently putting into place. A statement of objections was sent to the parties on 9 April 2003. Access to the file was provided by means of a CD-ROM received by the parties on 10 April. The parties provided a joint response to the statement of objections on 25 April 2003, in accordance with the deadline stipulated by the Commission. The parties waived their right to a formal oral hearing. After their reply to the statement of objections, a second CD-ROM containing additional documents placed on the file was transmitted to the parties. A new deadline of 14 May was set for any additional observations. On 5 May a state of play meeting took place between the Commission services and the parties at which the parties

were informed that objections on certain product markets had been dropped but that competition concerns remained as to others. On 6 May the parties submitted commitments within the permitted deadline to the Commission in order to resolve outstanding competition concerns. These commitments were then market tested. On 14 May the relevant Commission service received a letter from the parties, maintaining that the rights to defence had been infringed in particular by the fact that the information contained on the second CD-ROM was sent so late. However, on the same date the Commission service also wrote to the parties, informing them of the intention to drop the remaining objections, and to propose a draft clearance decision. At that point in time any issues relating to the rights of the parties to be heard effectively became moot. In the letter to the parties, they were given the opportunity to withdraw the commitments they had offered to the Commission. However, it was stated that, if retained, the Commission would take note of them in the clearance decision. The parties responded to the Commission's letter on 22 May, confirming their willingness to maintain their commitments.

Done at Brussels, 3 June 2003.
Karen WILLIAMS