EU clears Ball, Rexam merger subject to 12 plant divestments

BRUSSELS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday that it had approved U.S. drinks can maker Ball Corp’s planned 4.43 billion pound ($6.35 billion) purchase of Rexam Plc subject to the divestment of 12 plants.

“The Commission’s investigation showed that the transaction, as notified, would have reduced competition in the already concentrated markets for beverage cans and risked increasing prices for customers,” the Commission said in a statement.

Ball submitted commitments to sell 10 can body plants in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain and two can end plants in Britain and Germany, along with Ball’s business and technical centre in Bonn, Germany.

“The Commission concluded that the commitments ensure that an important alternative supplier will remain available. They address in full the competition concerns raised on the markets for beverage cans,” the Commission said.

The world’s two largest beverage can makers by volume are seeking to merge to improve management of capital spending and costs. ($1 = 0.6974 pounds) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Julia Fioretti)