EU launches probe into Aurubis purchase of recycler Metallo

Image courtesy of Aurubis AG

European Union antitrust regulators said on Tuesday they had opened an in-depth investigation into Germany’s copper giant Aurubis’s planned acquisition of Belgian-Spanish recycling company Metallo Group as the deal caused competition concerns.

“The Commission will carefully assess the merger between Aurubis and Metallo, the two leading copper scrap refiners in Europe, to ensure the transaction would not negatively affect competition in this important sector,” the EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

Aurubis, Europe’s biggest copper smelter, said in May it had agreed to buy Metallo for 380 million euros ($420.7 million) as part of an acquisition-led shift into other metals.

The Commission’s initial investigation into the deal led the EU antitrust regulator to conclude that “the merged entity could hold a dominant position in the procurement of copper scrap for refining,” which could damage the copper recycling industry.

In its in-depth investigation, which can last until April 3, the Commission will also assess whether the deal could cause higher costs for manufacturers generating copper scrap as a by-product and if it would allow Aurubis to control the supply of important inputs for copper cathodes and wire rods.

($1 = 0.9031 euros)

(By Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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