The EU General Court has dismissed the City of Helsinki’s and Helsingin Bussiliikenne’s appeals completely in landmark state aid rulings.
We represent the largest Nordic bus company Nobina in a state aid matter concerning the loans given by the City of Helsinki to its fully owned bus company Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy (HelB). We have supported Nobina by preparing a complaint to the EU Commission in 2011, and then assisted Nobina throughout the Commission’s multi-year investigation which resulted in a 2019 decision that the state aid is unlawful and must be paid back. The Commission ordered both HelB and the new company that had purchased HelB’s assets to pay back the illegal state aid of approximately EUR 54 million plus interest because the aid had distorted the bus market in the Helsinki region. After Helsinki and HelB appealed the Commission’s decision, Dittmar & Indrenius acted for Nobina in the EU General Court (cases T-597/19 and T-603/19) by supporting the Commission.
On the 14 September 2022, the EU General Court dismissed Helsinki’s and HelB’s appeals completely and ordered Helsinki and HelB to pay the Commission’s and Nobina’s legal fees.
The consequence of the judgements is that municipalities should be increasingly aware of the limits to how they can support their own companies. Also, those who buy a company or its assets should be aware that they could be jointly and severally liable to pay back the illegal state aid with the company that received it.
The cases are linked below: