State aid: Commission finds that the set-up of the Dutch Venture Initiative did not breach EU rules

The European Commission has concluded that the set-up and financing of the Dutch Venture Initiative (“DVI”) since 2013 – when the DVI was established – was not in breach of EU State aid rules. DVI is a “fund of fund” structure, jointly initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (“MoE”), the European Investment Fund (“EIF”) and PPM Oost, a Dutch publicly owned development company. DVI invests in private equity funds that make equity investments in Small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In September 2018, the Commission received a complaint alleging that the Dutch state had granted State aid to DVI, as well as to the EIF and to PPM Oost in the form of compensation fees for certain services provided. In addition, according to the complainant, aid was also granted, through DVI, to the private equity funds and SMEs in which DVI directly and indirectly invested at terms which, allegedly, would have given them a selective advantage, in breach of EU rules. The Commission found that the compensation paid to the EIF for its advisory services and to PPM Oost for the provision of certain administrative services in relation to DVI are in line with fees paid by private operators in comparable situations. The Commission also found that no State aid was granted to DVI, nor to private equity funds and SMEs, since DVI’s investments were carried out at market terms. The Commission therefore concluded that there is no selective advantage provided by the Dutch state and that therefore the set-up and financing of DVI did not breach EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.55704.