The UK's interests in the bid by Italy's Promatech SpA for the weaving machine manufacturing business of Swiss industrial group Sulzer have been referred to the European Commission.

Melanie Johnson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said in a statement that the deal "may raise competition issues on markets that extend beyond the UK and also may affect competition in other Member States."

She added: "I have therefore concluded, in accordance with
the advice of the Director General, that it would be appropriate to
ask the European competition authorities to consider it.

"We have co-ordinated our request with similar ones from Germany,
Spain and Italy, whose national competition authorities have also
been considering the case. We hope that the European Commission will, as a result, be able to carry out a single, co-ordinated consideration of its impact on competition in all the Member States concerned.

"This is the first time a merger has been referred to the European
Commission on a joint basis in this way. I am pleased that the close
liaison between national competition authorities has made possible
this co-operative approach to the consideration of the case."

None of the parties' activities in the production of weaving machines are located in the UK, but both are significant suppliers of the products to the UK market.

Promatech SpA is a weaving machine manufacturer and distributor based in Italy. It forms part of the Itema Group, which in turn is part of the Radici Group - which is active in the chemical industry, plastics, engineering, packaging, weaving industry, synthetic fibres and textile industry.

Sulzer Textile is the weaving machine production and distribution division of Sulzer Ltd. The parent company is based in Switzerland and is active in surfacing technology, turbo machinery, pumps and chemical process technology.