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Polish antitrust watchdog fines Engie over Nord Stream 2

Highlights

$45 million fine for alleged lack of cooperation

Polish authority investigating Nord Stream 2 financing

Engie says will appeal against the decision

London — Poland's antitrust authority, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), said Friday it had imposed a fine on France's Engie of Zloty 172 million ($44.5 million) for its failure to provide the watchdog with documents regarding its agreements with Gazprom aboutfinancing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The decision to fine Engie is part of UOKiK's proceedings against Gazprom and five European companies -- Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall -- which are responsible for financing Nord Stream 2.

"The company persistently and unreasonably refused to provide us with the requested documents and materials. This caused a significant delay in conducting our activities related to financing the construction of Nord Stream 2," Michal Holeksa, UOKiK's vice-president, said in astatement.

Engie said it disagreed with the ruling. "We challenge the legal basis of the decision and we will appeal," an Engie spokesman told S&PGlobal Platts. The company has the right to appeal against the decision at Poland's Court of Competition and Consumer Protection.

In August 2016, UOKiK decided that the planned creation of a new joint venture between Gazprom and the five international companies could limit competition and strengthen Gazprom's already dominant position on the European gas market.

In response, the Nord Stream 2 consortium withdrew its application to UOKiK for the creation of the JV. Instead, Nord Stream 2 AG, a 100% Gazprom-owned company, signed financing agreements with the five international companies.

In April 2018, UOKiK began an investigation and accused the six companies of finalizing the financing agreements for the project and trying to circumvent Poland's antitrust laws. "Both the withdrawn application regarding the creation of the joint venture and the conclusion of subsequent contracts had the same purpose: to finance the construction of Nord Stream 2," UOKiK said in its statement.

-- Adam Easton, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com