Merger of Sardinian airports, Antitrust does not open investigation: it does not hinder competition

Merger of Sardinian airports Antitrust does not open investigation it

(Finance) – The Competition and Market Guarantor Authority (AGCM) has resolved not to start the investigation into the concentration operation of the Sardinian ports. The operation consists in the transfer to Ligantia of the shareholding held by the CCIAA in Sogaer (as well as possibly the shareholding in Sogaer which will be held by Fondazione di Sardegna following the purchase of the same from Banco di Sardegna), to release a capital increase of Ligantia reserved for the Chamber of Commerce, which will allow the latter to enter the capital of Ligantia with a participation of 40.5%.
The operation is governed by an investment agreement concluded on 5 October 2023 between the Chamber of Commerce, the F2i Funds, the investors BlackRock, Fondazione di Sardegna and Ligantia. Upon completion of the operation, Ligantia will hold control of all three airport management companies Sardinian being the owner of 79.79% stakes in Geasar, 71.25% in Sogeaal and 95.7% in Sogaer. F2i Ligantia is a company established in 2012, originally under the name F2i Aeroporti 2.

AGCM has established that the operation does not significantly impede effective competition in the markets concerned and does not lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position.

Going into detail, the operation is not suitable for producing anti-competitive effects in the markets examined, resulting in the mere replacement of one operator with another. Specifically, by virtue of the distinction between the catchment areas of the airports of Alghero, Olbia and Cagliari, the operation is not suitable for generating horizontal overlap effects in the market of services relating to centralized infrastructures.

The same applies to the market for ground assistance services (handling) and for that of commercial services, characterized by a geographical dimension coinciding with the single airport involved, i.e. the airports of Alghero, Olbia and Cagliari, where the purchasing companies are not active in vertically linked markets. The companies owned by the F2i Funds and Ligantia (through Geasar and Sogeaal) are not active in the relevant markets in which Sogaer operates, nor in markets located upstream or downstream of the same, nor is the Chamber of Commerce active in the relevant markets in which Ligantia operates (through Geasar and Sogeaal), nor in markets located upstream or downstream of them.