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UK Competition Regulator Closes Bouygues-Equans Probe

 |  November 23, 2022

The Competition and Markets Authority has closed its investigation into French industrial giant Bouygues’ acquisition of construction-services firm Equans for €6.1bn.

Bouygues agreed to acquire Equans from fellow French firm Engie in November for an initial price of €6.5bn, which, when factoring in net debt, resulted in a final purchase price of €6.1bn.

The merger was the largest acquisition in Bouygues’ history and would see it become one of the world’s leading multi-technical services firms.

Related: UK Watchdog OKs Bouygues & Equans Merger

The deal was formally completed in October and the UK’s competition’s watchdog closed down its investigation into whether the merger would lead to unfair competition last week.

The CMA launched its probe in July amid concerns that the merger might lead to a “lessening of competition” within a specialist sector of the UK construction market.

Probing the potential for what is known as a ‘substantial lessening of competition’, the watchdog requested undertakings from both parties that competition would not be affected. It highlighted in particular work on HS2 as a cause for concern.

Subsidiaries of both Bouygues and Equans were competing as two of the four bidders for HS2’s £300m overhead-cable contract. In August, the parties agreed to withdraw one of the bids.

On 2 August, the CMA indicated that undertakings to withdraw one bid “might” be accepted by the body as satisfying their concerns.

According to the latest CMA report, Bouygues and Equans agreed earlier this year to have an independent third party assess the bids submitted in the HS2 tender by Colas Rail and the Rapide joint venture to determine which of the bids was “the most economically advantageous to HS2 Ltd”.