Horst Henschen is an of counsel in Covington’s Frankfurt office and a member of the firm’s global antitrust and competition team.

Leveraging over 20 years of experience in antitrust matters, Horst provides advice in complex M&A and joint venture transactions requiring international antitrust merger control approvals both in Europe, including in Germany and worldwide. Horst also represents clients with fine proceedings before the Federal Cartel Office and the European Commission and coordinates immunity/leniency proceedings on a worldwide basis.

In addition, Horst represented a number of non-EU companies in their foreign investment application to the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy securing a Certificate of Non-objection ("Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung") for their acquisition of shares in a German company.

Horst has represented companies of a range of sectors, including life sciences and financial services, advising on all aspects of EU, German and international antitrust law, in particular in connection with merger control, cartel investigations and antitrust compliance programs and internal investigations.

On 27 April 2020 the Federal Cartel Office in Germany (“FCO”) cleared the acquisition of Vossloh Locomotives GmbH (“Vossloh Locomotives”) by Chinese manufacturer CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotives Co. Ltd. (“CRRC”). FCO President Andreas Mundt stated that the in-depth investigation found that initial concerns were not serious enough to justify prohibiting the transaction.

The FCO released a press report and a case summary (exclusively available in German) one week before expiry of the review period. The detailed clearance decision will be published at a later stage.

By acquiring Vossloh, CRRC takes over a key manufacturer of shunters in Europe. The FCO determined that Vossloh Locomotives is the leader for the manufacture of diesel-powered locomotive shunters with a share between 40-50% in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The FCO found that this area constituted a relevant geographic market. CRRC is the world’s largest manufacturer of rolling stock, albeit with only limited activities in Europe.

The decision should be read in the context of the interplay between merger control and Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) screening. It contains significant and novel decisional guidance on the competitive assessment under German merger control law of acquisitions by State-owned companies originating from centrally planned economies. It also clarifies that a merger control analysis only covers some of the concerns raised by acquisitions by state-owned companies.
Continue Reading German Competition Authority Provides Guidance on the Interplay of Merger Control and FDI Screening

With a remarkable statement in an interview with the Financial Times published on 12 April 2020, the Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager in charge of Competition was cited to have declared that the Commission has “no issues” with EU Member States buying shares in companies to prevent takeovers by foreign acquirers, in particular by State-backed enterprises.

Coming at a time of increased attention to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limitations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this takes up discussions about “Golden Shares”, a mechanism allowing a Member State to veto certain “critical” decisions such as takeovers on the basis of a minority shareholding in a company, and adds a new dimension to the discussion that has been raging across Europe, covering FDI, but also State aid and the principle of free movement of capital.
Continue Reading “No Issues” with Member State Participations – State-backed EU Companies as the New Normal?

The German government has proposed a new draft bill reforming the current foreign direct investment (“FDI”) regime, which is likely to have a significant impact on all M&A transactions involving acquisitions of 10% or more of the voting rights in German companies active in “critical infrastructures” and “critical technologies” by any non-EU investors. Under the revised regime, such transactions will automatically be subject to a period of suspension until clearance is granted.
Continue Reading German Government Decides on Tightening the National FDI Screening Regime

This blog post explores whether collaboration among competitors to manufacture and/or distribute critical products and services in specific sectors such as logistics, medical supplies, and groceries and supermarkets, etc. can be justified under European competition law during a crisis even when the collaboration would not be defensible in the absence of the crisis.
Continue Reading Competition laws must be respected even in difficult times – but they are flexible!