December 2003

Anticompetitive practices

The European Commission exempts vertical restraints in the Nordic pay-TV Sector (Telenor/Canal+/Canal Digital)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
"Commission exempts vertical restraints in the Nordic pay-TV Sector: Telenor/Canal+/Canal Digital"* Introduction After a fundamental restructuring of the Spanish and Italian pay-TV markets, also the Nordic pay-TV sector has undergone major changes in recent times, albeit in a different (...)

The French Competition Authority orders interim measures to address competition concerns in the press distribution sector (NMPP)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. The Conseil de la concurrence announces interim measures concerning NMPP.* In a decision dated 22 December 2003, the Conseil de la concurrence, following a case filed by Messageries Lyonnaises de presse (...)

The European Commission fines a cartel in the industrial copper tube producers
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission adopts a cartel decision imposing fines on industrial copper tube producers"* In the fifth decision against had core cartels adopted in 2003, the Commission imposed fines totalling EUR 79 million on the major European copper tubes producers, including Outokumpu, KME-group and (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission imposes surcharges on two constructors compagnies regarding the bid-riggings on civil engineering works (Miyamoto Kensetsu and Seto Sangyo)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
A decision on surcharge to Miyamoto Kensetsu Inc. and Seto Sangyo Inc. * The JFTC today issued a decision that construction companies, Miyamoto Kensetsu Inc. and Seto Sangyo Inc. pay surcharge regarding the bid-riggings on civil engineering works called by City of Takamatsu (Kagawa (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission imposes surcharges on participants in bidding for clinical laboratory test called by nationalpublic hospitals (SRL)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC surcharged participants in bidding for clinical laboratory test called by national/public hospitals* As for bids called by national/public hospitals, the JFTC ordered 6 participants in tendering for contracts of clinical laboratory test to pay surcharge in accordance with Section (...)

The European Commission fines members of the organic peroxides cartel (Atofina / Peroxid Chemie / Laporte / Perorsa / AC-Treuhand)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission fines members of the organic peroxides cartel"* In a decision adopted on 10 December 2003, the European Commission has imposed fines totalling nearly 70 million on Atofina, Peroxid Chemie, Laporte (now known as Degussa UK Holdings), Perorsa and AC Treuhand AG for operating acartel (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission imposes surcharges on participants in bidding for paving works (Meisei Kensetsu Kougyo and Noguchi Hodo)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC surcharged participants in bidding for paving works, called by Kyoto City* As for bids called by Kyoto City, the JFTC ordered 2 participants (Meisei Kensetsu Kougyo K. K. (hereafter MEISEI) and Noguchi Hodo K K. (hereafter NOGUCHI) ) in tendering for paving work contracts to pay (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission renders its recommendations against manufacturers of cold-rolled stainless steel sheets and steel strips for having implemented an anticompetitive price fixing agreement (Nisshin Steel)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC issues a recommendation to manufacturers of cold-rolled stainless steel sheets on price fixing* JFTC, following an investigating into manufacturers of cold-rolled stainless steel sheets and steel strips (Excluding cold-rolled narrow strips), issued today a recommendation to 6 companies (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission renders a decision against two fumigators for having implemented a price fixing agreement (Kanto Fumigation and Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
Decision in Hearing against Kanto Kogyo Co., Ltd.* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) rendered an initial decision for the hearing against the respondent Kanto Kogyo Co., Ltd. (hereafter “respondent”) on September 28, 2001, and thereafter had a hearing examiner conduct the hearing (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Japan Fair Trade Commission issues a recommendation to a dominante telecom company in the optical broadband communications services market (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC renders recommendation and warning to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation on optical broadband communications services* The JFTC, following an investigation, today issued a recommendation to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (NTT East) for the violation of (...)

The French Competition Authority rejects a request for interim measures on the pay-TV market (I>Télé / TPS)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. The Conseil de la concurrence rejects the request for interim measures filed by the news channel I>Télé and the Canal Plus Group, but continues its full inquiry into the case on the merits.* In July 2003, the (...)

The French Competition Authority orders interim measures to address competition concerns in the public radio broadcasting sector (TDF)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. The Conseil de la concurrence observes the end of TDF’s monopoly on broadcasting programmes for Radio France and imposes interim measures.* In a decision dated 1st December 2003, the Conseil de la concurrence (...)

Mergers

The French Minister of Economics cleared a merger in the sector of building materials with remedies, including divestitures and behavioural remedies (Point P / PUM Plastiques)
University Paris II Panthéon‑Assas
The operation By a letter dated 24 December 2003, the French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry authorised the acquisition of PUM Plastiques SA (“PUM Platisques”) by Point P, subsidiary of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain (“Saint-Gobain”). Saint-Gobain is specialised in building materials, which (...)

The European Commission accepts the request of the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs to refer the examination of the entire transaction arising from the agreements between two Belgium companies on the supply of electricity and gas to eligible customers in the Brussels region (Sibelga, Electrabel)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Merger Control: Main developments between 1st September 2003 and 31st December 2003"* On 19 December 2003 the Commission decided to accept the request of the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs to refer the examination of the entire transaction arising from the agreements between Sibelga and (...)

The Austrian Cartel Court clears an acquisition in the media sector subject to remedies aimed at ensuring media pluralism (Moser/Athesia)
NERA (Berlin)
The operation Moser Holding AG (Moser) controls the major daily newspaper in the Tyrol ("Tiroler Tageszeitung") and the regional Tyrolean radio station "Antenne Tirol". Athesia Druck GmbH (Athesia) publishes the South Tyrolean newspaper "Dolomiten" and runs the local radio station "Arabella (...)

The Italian Competition Authority cleared with remedies a merger in the tobacco sector (British American Tobacco/Ente Tabacchi Italiani)
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Chiomenti (Rome)
The operation The operation is the last step of the privatisation process concerning the activities of Italian State in the tobacco industry. The transaction follows a call for tenders launched by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance in 2003 and won by BAT. Therefore, as a result of the (...)

The Italian Competition Authority clears a merger in the tobacco sector with behavioural remedies (British American Tobacco/Ente Tabacchi Italiani)
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Chiomenti (Rome)
The operation The operation is the last step of the privatisation process concerning the activities of Italian State in the tobacco industry. The transaction follows a call for tenders launched by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance in 2003 and won by British American Tobacco (BAT). (...)

The EU Commission approves a Spanish joint venture in the media sector (Prisa / Polestar)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Merger Control: Main developments between 1st September 2003 and 31st December 2003"* In December the Commission approved a proposed Spanish joint venture, which will bring together the printing activities of Spanish media group Prisa and those of British graphic arts company Polestar. On 6 (...)

The Lithuanian Competition Council clears in phase II a merger in the markets of fixed and mobile communications with structural and behavioural remedies (TeliaSonera/Omnitel)
Vodafone (Istanbul)
The operation By a decision dated 11 December 2003, the Lithuanian Competition Council authorized in phase II the acquisition by TeliaSonera AB (« TeliaSonera ») of up to 90 % shares of UAB Omnitel (« Omnitel ») through Amber Mobile Teleholding AB (« Amber Mobile »). The market(s) The relevant (...)

The Dutch NCA clears a merger in the electricity sector subject to third parties access to infrastructure (Nuon - Reliant Energy Europe)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
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Eversheds Sutherland (Amsterdam)
The operation Nuon is an electricity producer and distributor. Reliant is one of the larger electricity producers in the Netherlands. Nuon proposed acquiring the whole of issued capital of Reliant (para. 3). The market(s) The activities of Nuon and Reliant with regard to the production and (...)

The European Commission clears a merger in the portable ultrasound non destructive testing devices (Agfa/GE)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Merger Control: Main developments between 1st September 2003 and 31st December 2003"* On 5 December the Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of Agfa‘s non-destructive testing (NDT) business by General Electric (GE) of the US. GE is a diversified industrial corporation active gobally in (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal rules on the obligation for the OFT to refer a merger case to the Competition Commission whenever there is doubt about whether it would result in a substantial lessening of competition (IBA Health)
Hogan Lovells (London)
On 3 December 2003, the Competition Appeal Tribunal in the UK upheld an application by IBA Health Ltd for judicial review against the Office of Fair Trading’s decision not to refer the anticipated merger between iSoft Plc and Torex Plc to the Competition Commission for detailed investigation. (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal rules on the obligation for the OFT to refer a merger case to the Competition Commission whenever there is doubt about whether it would result in a substantial lessening of competition (IBA Health)
Hogan Lovells (London)
On 3 December 2003, the Competition Appeal Tribunal in the UK upheld an application by IBA Health Ltd for judicial review against the Office of Fair Trading’s decision not to refer the anticipated merger between iSoft Plc and Torex Plc to the Competition Commission for detailed investigation. (...)

The German Bundeskartellamt clears a joint venture in the local public transport sector, under the condition that contracts for local public transport services be increasingly awarded through competitive procedures (DB Regio/Ustra Intalliance)
Baker McKenzie (Dusseldorf)
The operation On 7 July 2003 the Bundeskartellamt was notified of the proposal of DB Regio AG (“DB Regio”) and üstra Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG (“üstra”), to combine their local public transport activities in the greater Hanover area in the joint venture üstra intalliance AG (“intalliance”). (...)

State Aid

French Courts ruled that contracts passed between the airport of Strasbourg and a low cost airline company is a State aid submitted to notification to the EC Commission (Brit Air/Ryan Air)
Schmitt Avocats
Administrative Court of Strasbourg (Tribunal Administratif de Strasbourg), 24 July 2003, Société Brit Air vs. Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Strasbourg and Société Ryan Air, n°02-046541 Administrative Court of Appeal of Nancy (Cour Administrative d’Appel de Nancy), 18 December 2003, Chambre de (...)

The European Commission rules that the Dutch energy tax exemption for energy intensive end-users does not constitute a State aid
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Energy taxation and state aid The Netherlands: energy tax exemption for energy intensive end-users"* In November 2003, the Dutch authorities notified a fiscal State aid measure called ‘Energy Tax Exemption for Energy Intensive End-users’.The Dutch regulatory energy tax is a tax on natural gas (...)

The European Commission authorizes the new German ship-financing guarantee schemes
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
"The new German ship-financing guarantee schemes: Commission gives green light"* Introduction On 16 December 2003 the European Commission decided to approve a new German proposal of ship financing guarantees. The guarantees will be operated in Germany’s five coastal Länder (Niedersachsen, (...)

The Romanian State Aid Regime: An overview
European Security Transport Association (ESTA)
Law n° 143/1999 on State Aid, Last consolidated version of December 15th 2003 (Unofficial English translation) Competition Law n° 21/1996, Romanian Official Journal, Part I, n° 88, April 30th, 1996 (Unofficial English translation) The legal basis for the creation of a state aid control regime in (...)

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