Mergers: Commission clears Avnet’s acquisition of Abacus in electronic components industry

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Source: European Commission, Environment DG

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Avnet of the US of Abacus of the UK. Both companies are electronic components distributors. The investigation has shown that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Avnet Inc. is active globally in the distribution of electronic components and computer products and systems. Active in ten European countries (UK, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Finland Sweden and Norway), the Abacus Group plc. also specialises in the distribution of electronic components. Both companies supply their customers, for example original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), with the electronic components required for the customers' own production processes.

Through the proposed takeover, Avnet would reinforce its position on the market for the distribution of electronic components as a whole and acquire a leading position in several EEA countries for the distribution of semiconductors. However, since Abacus is a relatively small player on the market, the change brought about by the acquisition would be limited. The Commission's investigation showed that competitors, in particular Arrow, who is the largest distributor in the EEA, as well as a number of smaller distributors, would be able to act as a constraint on any anti-competitive behaviour of the combined entity.

Even though the proposed acquisition would increase the difference in market shares between the two market leaders Arrow and Avnet on the one hand and the other distributors on the other hand, the Commission's investigation concluded that there was no risk of collusive behaviour. This is particularly due to the limited price transparency in the market where a very large number of different products are distributed and are often combined with various services. In addition, any attempt to establish coordination between major players at the distribution level would face fierce resistance from manufacturers.

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