Competition authority rejects Amsterdam waste processor takeover

Photo: ANP / Hollandse Hoogte / Harold Versteeg

The Dutch competition authority ACM has blocked the controversial sale of Amsterdam waste incineration firm AEB to a Rotterdam firm which is ultimately owned by Hong Kong-based company Cheung Kong.

If the sale to Afvalverwerking Rijnmond (AVR) had gone ahead, the resultant company would have been “too powerful” and that would have “led to higher prices for the processing of household and low-level hazardous waste,” the ACM said.

If they had merged, AVR and AEB together would have become by far the largest waste-management company in the Netherlands with processing capacity twice that of their nearest competitor and a 60% share of the market for household waste in the western part of the Netherlands.

“The combination AVR/AEB could have raised the prices for processing household waste,” said ACM chairman Martijn Snoep. “People living in the western provinces would have seen their waste disposal fees go up. Competition in this market will keep prices competitive.”

AEB chief Michel Frequin said the news that the takeover has been banned is disappointing. “It is important that we have clarity about the future of the AEB as soon as possible,” he said. “It is now up to our shareholder, the city of Amsterdam.”

Amsterdam decided to sell off the AEB in 2021 following a period of financial uncertainty. In 2019, four of the six incinerators had to be closed down for a time because of poor maintenance, and the city had to pump in €35m to stop the plant going bust.

The company hit the headlines last month with the news it is importing a huge volume of waste from Rome for incineration.

The AEB, located in the western harbour, has been processing waste from Britain for 10 years, and also has deals with Belgium, Germany, Iceland and France, the company told Dutch News.

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