Following the completion of an in-depth review launched in February 2016, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Arianespace by Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), the prime contractor for Ariane 5 and the future Ariane 6.
The decision clears the way for ASL to purchase the 34.68% stake in Arianespace previously held by France’s Cnes space agency, bringing ASL’s total stake to 75%.
This latest development comes three weeks after ASL became fully operational following the finalisation of the creation of the JV by Airbus Group and Safran on 30th June.
The Commission had concerns that the transaction would give rise to flows of sensitive information between Airbus and Arianespace to the detriment of competing satellite manufacturers and launch service providers.
In order to address the Commission's concerns, the companies have offered to implement firewalls between Airbus and Arianespace to prevent information flows that could harm competitors. In particular, the companies have committed not to share information about third parties with each other except for what is normally required for the everyday operation of the business.
The companies will also introduce measures restricting employees' mobility between the companies and provide for an arbitration mechanism to be included in all their future non-disclosure agreements signed with third parties, to ensure the effective implementation of the firewalls.
The Commission had originally raised three additional preliminary concerns, which were not substantiated during the investigation :
- Discrimination in satellite manufacturers' access to Arianespace's launch services.
- Priority to Ariane launchers to the detriment of Vega launchers.
- Procurement of payload adapters and dispensers exclusively from Airbus and ASL.