Italian takeover of Work Service probed by Hungary

The Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) announced in late December that it launched an investigation into the acquisition of control over the Polish staffing and RPO provider Work Service from Italian staffing firm GI Group.

According to the Authority, the investigation was launched due to the allegation of the GVH that when the GI Group acquired control over its Polish competitor under an investment agreement, it simultaneously acquired joint control over its Hungarian subsidiary, Prohumán.

“This transaction may influence the Hungarian market as well; therefore, the GVH was likely required to be notified,” the Authority stated. “Undertakings can implement notifiable mergers which meet the thresholds specified in the Hungarian Competition Act and are thus subject to a notification obligation only after the GVH has investigated whether such a merger would significantly reduce competition on the relevant market.”

In August 2020, GI Group announced that it completed its transaction of a controlling interest in Work Service. The deal was first announced on 13 February 2020.

The Authority launched its competition supervision proceeding against all undertakings directly involved in the merger, which includes Profólió Projekt Tanácsadó Kft., the business exercising joint control over the Hungarian undertaking together with its Polish partner, and Prohumán, in addition to GI Group and Work Service.

According to the Authority, the initiation of the competition supervision proceeding does not mean that the companies have in fact committed the suspected infringement. Rather, the proceeding is aimed at clarifying the facts and proving the alleged infringement.

The time limit for the completion of the proceeding is six months which, where justified, may be extended on a single occasion by a maximum of two months.

GI Group provided an official statement to SIA: “GI Group is an international group operating directly and indirectly in 58 countries complying with relevant laws. All transactions of GI Group are implemented in compliance with the above principles and the same occurred for the acquisition of the group Work Service.”

“At this regards it has to be noted that where required by any applicable laws the acquisition has been duly notified and authorised by the competent merger control authorities,” the company added.

“GI group will carefully review the Hungarian Competition Authority inquiry. GI Group will fully cooperate with the Hungarian Competition Authority to provide all the clarification as to the correctness of its conducts,” GI Group stated.

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