CMA pushes ahead with inquiry into major appliance merger

L-r: Fatih Kemal Ebiçlioğlu. Consumer Durables Group President of Koç Holding; Marc Bitzer, Whirlpool_Cooperation CEO, Hakan Bulgurlu, Arçelik CEO

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it will be going ahead with an official inquiry into the proposed merger between Arçelik and Whirlpool Corporation.

The CMA published “concerns” in September about the reduction in UK consumer choice if the merger went ahead unchallenged. The companies were given an October 5 deadline to respond, however on that date both parties told the CMA that they “would not offer such undertakings”.

The CMA believes that the deal might affect competition in the sale of washing machines, tumble-dryers, dishwashers, and cooking appliances. However, it apparently has no competition concerns in the supply of refrigerators and freezers.

On September 28, the CMA disclosed it had raised its concerns to both Arçelik and Whirlpool Corporation. Following that, both parties were given the chance to “offer acceptable undertakings to address these competition concerns”.

Following both parties’ failure to do so, the CMA has officially launched a phase-two investigation. It has appointed an inquiry group to handle the investigation, which will look into the CMA’s concerns.

A spokesperson for Arçelik said that the company “remains in close and constructive collaboration with the CMA in the context of the proposed transaction with Whirlpool Europe.” Similarly, a spokesperson for Whirlpool commented that it “look[s] forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with the CMA in a Phase 2 process for our proposed transaction with Arçelik”.

The appointed inquiry group has until March 26, 2024 to complete its investigations.

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