The European Commission (EC) on Monday fined General Electric (GE) €52 million for providing incorrect information during the Commission's investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of GE's planned acquisition of Denmark-based LM Wind.
According to a statement from the EC, on Jan. 11, 2017, GE notified its proposed acquisition of LM Wind, stating that it did not have any higher power output wind turbine for offshore applications in development beyond its existing six-megawatt turbine.
However, through information collected from a third party, the Commission found that GE was simultaneously offering a 12-megawatt 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,' the Commission said.
'GE committed an infringement by negligently providing incorrect information in the merger notification form. The Commission considers that this infringement is serious because it prevented it from having all relevant information for the assessment of the transaction,' it added.
According to the statement, GE withdrew its notification of the acquisition of LM Wind on Feb. 2, 2017, only to re-notify the same transaction 11 days later, this time including complete information on its future project. The Commission approved the proposed acquisition on March 20, 2017.
'Today's 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,' the Commission noted.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: 'Our merger assessment and decision-making can only be as good as the information that we obtain to support it. 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,' Vestager added.
According to the Merger Regulation, the Commission can impose fines of up to 1% of the aggregated turnover of companies, which intentionally or negligently provide incorrect or misleading information to the Commission.
By Hale Turkes