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EU approves STX control of Aker Yards

Seoul: South Korea's STX Shipbuilding won permission from the European Commission on Monday to take a controlling interest in Norway's Aker Yards in an $800 million acquisition.
STX bought a 39.2 percent stake in Aker Yards in October, making it the biggest shareholder.
"After an in-depth investigation, launched in December 2007, the Commission concluded that effective competition on the shipbuilding markets would not be significantly impeded as a result of the proposed transaction," the Commission, executive arm of the European Union, said in a statement.
Aker Yards builds cruise ships, ferries, merchant vessels and offshore vessels. It is one of the three main players on the global market for the construction of cruise ships, together with Fincantieri of Italy and Meyer Werft of Germany.
STX builds various types of cargo vessels, such as container ships and gas tankers, the Commission said. Until now, it has not built cruise ships or ferries.
The Commission said its in-depth investigation had focused on concerns that the proposed merger might, in particular, remove STX as a potential new market entrant into a concentrated cruise ship manufacturing market.
But "the Commission found that by itself STX was still far from close to becoming an effective competitive constraint on the existing cruise ship construction market", it said.
"The in-depth investigation also showed that STX was not the only possible market entrant and that post-merger a number of other far-east shipbuilders would be as equally well placed as STX to enter the market," the statement said. Daewoo and Samsunng are understood the b in advanced discussions with MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean respectively to enter the cruise market, the last shipbuilding sector that the Europeans have not relinquished control to Asia yet. [5/4/08]

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