• Professional News
  • 09 August 2012

State aid in a case on privatisation although the State had conducted a tender

In a case on privatisation of a bank, Austria had granted State aid by not choosing the highest bid although the bid seemed unprofessionally high.

The Court upheld a Commission decision declaring that Austria had granted incompatible State aid to an Austrian buyer in connection with the sale of a bank (Hypo Bank Burgenland). In the case, a public seller had conducted a tender in connection with the sale of the bank but had not sold the bank to the highest bidder, as its bid seemed unprofessionally high.

However, the Court found that the reasons given for not selecting the highest bidder were not adequate. The State aid corresponded to the difference between the highest bid and the bid made by the final buyer. The very substantial State aid amount (of more than EUR 50m) was to be paid by the buyer to the Austrian State.

The Court rejected that one could in the case rely on independent assessments of market price once the market price had already been found via a tender.

(The joined cases T-268/08 and T-281/08 Land Burgenland (Austria) vs. the Commission)

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