December 2006

Anticompetitive practices

The Polish Competition Authority heavily fines, in spite of termination of the practice, a yeast producer for having imposed to 45 wholesalers an exclusivity clause (Lesaffre Bio-Corporation)
French National Research Agency (ANR)
Like the European Commission, the Polish Competition Authority - the President of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (hereafter : the OCCP President) - is empowered to issue a formal infringement decision in spite of the practice having ceased. The OCCP President has been vested (...)

The Polish NCA holds that the joint setting of domestic interchange fee for payment cards is contrary to both Polish and EC competition law (Visa/MasterCard)
French National Research Agency (ANR)
Following a complaint from 2001, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (hereafter: the OCCP President) issued on December 29, 2006, a decision declaring the joint setting of domestic interchange fee rates separately in Visa and MasterCard four-party payment card (...)

The UK Competition Commission imposes inter alia price control to a major operator in the printed classified directories market (Yell)
RBB Economics (London)
On 21 December 2006, the UK’s Competition Commission published the results of its market investigation on the supply of printed classified directory advertising services (CDAS). In its report, the CC found that Yell, the largest supplier, had market power. This finding was based primarily on (...)

The Czech Competition Office imposes a fine on pharmaceuticals distributors for coordinating suspension of their supplies to public Czech hospitals (Alliance UniChem, Gehe Pharma Praha, Pharmos, Phoenix)
Gide Loyrette Nouel
The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (the “Office”) imposed by its first-instance decision a fine in the aggregate amount of cca 113 million CZK (cca 4 million EUR) on a group of four largest distributors of pharmaceuticals in the Czech Republic. The four companies, together (...)

The Hungarian Competition Office imposes record cartel fine in the car insurance sector (Allianz)
Oppenheim
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Oppenheim - Budapest
On 21 December 2006 the HCO delivered its decision in the first large-scale cartel case in the Hungarian car insurance sector (Decision n° Vj-51/2005). In its proceedings the HCO investigated the two largest insurance companies’ vertical relationships with car dealers (who also act as car repair (...)

The Czech NCA applies Art. 81 EC to a distribution network based on direct sales to consumer (Tupperware)
University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris)
The present decision concerns the compliance of the dealership contracts concluded between Tupperware s.r.o and independent dealers with Article 81 of the EC Treaty and similar national provisions contained in the Act on the Protection of Competition (hereafter the “Act”). Tupperware s.r.o. is a (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal confirms the NCA’s record fine on three mobile telephony operators for exchanging confidential information and maintaining market shares (Bouygues Télécoms, SFR, Orange France)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Paris)
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Total (Paris)
Following the Competition Council’s decision to initiate proceedings ex officio in 2001 and a complaint lodged by the consumer association UFC Que Choisir in 2002, an investigation revealed the existence of anticompetitive agreements on the French mobile telephony market. In a decision dated 30 (...)

The Paris Court of appeal upholds France’s highest antitrust fine ever and confirms a strict -yet not entirely clear- approach towards exchange of information between competitors in oligopoly markets (Bouygues Télécom, SFR, Orange France)
University Paris II Panthéon‑Assas
Paris Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel de Paris, 1ère Chambre, Section H), 12 December 2006, n° RG 2006/00048, Bouygues Télécoms SA, SFR SA, Orange France SA On November 25, 2005, the French competition council imposed a combined fine of EUR 534 million on France’s three mobile operators, i. e. the (...)

The French Competition Authority sanctions 22 companies for having entered into an agreement on the sector of cycle and cycle products distribution (Master Cycle, Bouticycles)
French Competition Authority
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Cycle and cycle products distribution: The Conseil de la concurrence imposes fine of 580 000 euros on a national scale agreement involving 22 companies.* Following a referral by the Minister of Economy on (...)

The European Commission adopts revised leniency notice to reward companies that report hard-core cartels
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission adopts revised Leniency Notice to reward companies that report hard-core cartels"* On 6 December 2006 the Commission adopted a revised Notice on Immunity from Fines and Reduction of Fines in Cartel Cases (the “2006 Leniency Notice”). The 2006 Leniency Notice builds on the (...)

The Maltese Commission for Fair Trading strikes down trade restrictive clauses in an exclusive poultry supply agreement (Buxon Poultry vs Poultry Cooperative and Abela)
Buxon Poultry Limited requested the Court of Magistrates (Malta) to find defendants Koperattiva tat-Tjur Limited (Poultry Cooperative Limited) and Emmanuel Abela liable in solidum in favour of claimant to pay a penalty of LM5,000. Claimant alleged that said penalty was due as a result of (...)

The Austrian Cartel Court imposes its highest fine ever for concerted and abusive practices in the debit card and payment system sector (Europay Austria...)
Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte
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Bpv Hügel (Vienna)
On December 1st, 2006 the Austrian Cartel Court imposed its highest fine ever, of EUR 5 million, on Europay Austria Zahlungsverkehrssysteme GmbH (“Europay Austria”). Europay Austria was fined for violation of the Austrian law equivalents of Art 81 and Art 82 because of its participation in the (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Slovak Antimonopoly Office confirms the 2 M € fine imposed to the State owned rail/cargo company for foreclosure of the freight railway transport market (ZSSK Cargo Slovakia)
PRK Partners (Bratislava)
The second instance body of the Slovak Antimonopoly Office (AMO) rejected the appeal of the Slovak dominant rail cargo transportation company ZSSK Cargo Slovakia against the first instance decision of the AMO regarding abuse of its dominant position and confirmed the fine imposed on ZSSK Cargo (...)

The Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition fines collective management societies for abusing their collective dominant position by imposing unfair pricing conditions and refusing to deal (Collective Management Societies)
Kinstellar (Sofia)
The Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (the “CPC”) sanctioned six collective management societies for abusing their collective dominant position by imposing unfair pricing conditions for licensing to cable TV operators the rights that the societies managed, as well as for refusal (...)

The Spanish NCA fines € 2,5 M an electricity producer for abusive prices in the electricity generation schedules adjustment market (Viesgo Generación)
Compass Lexecon (Madrid)
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Compass Lexecon (Brussels)
On December 2006, the Spanish Antitrust Court, TDC, imposed a fine to Enel Viesgo: 2,5 million €. According to the TDC, Enel Viesgo has abused its dominant position in the electricity generation schedules adjustment market by setting excessively high prices (Mercado de restricciones). This (...)

The Spanish Competition Court fines a power generating company for abusing its dominant position by artificially raising the prices of the Spanish electricity pool (Viesgo Generación)
Hogan Lovells (Madrid)
The Spanish National Energy Commission (Comisión Nacional de la Energía, “the CNE”), submitted on 11 July and 11 November 2003 two reports to the Spanish Service for Defence of Competition (“the Service”) regarding about the conclusions of two investigations carried out to determine the reasons (...)

The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic upholds the decision of the Competition Office after the intervention of the European Commission (Cargo Slovakia)
Havel, Holasek & Partners (Brno)
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Havel, Holasek & Partners (Brno)
Relevant facts In the following judgement, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic confirmed the decision of the Slovak Antimonopoly Office (hereinafter referred to as "Office") where the Office stated that the railway company Železničná spoločnosť a.s., later its successor, Železničná spoločnosť (...)

The Lithuanian Administrative Supreme Court refers a case of alleged abuse of dominance by the incumbent in the postal sector for a review de novo (Lithuanian Post)
Gibson Dunn
On 5 January 2006, the Competition Council established that Lietuvos paštas (the "Lithuanian Post") abused its dominant position in the market of reserved postal services by seeking to strengthen its position and to foreclose its competitors from a closely related market of printing, folding and (...)

The Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court sends the alleged abuse of dominance by the postal incumbent back to the national competition authority for insufficient market definition (Lietuvos Patas)
Lithuanian Competition Council
On 22 December 2006 the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court (LSAC) annulled the judgment of the court of first instance (Vilnius District Administrative Court or VDAC) related to the Article 9 (abuse of dominance) infringement decision of the Competition Council in the Lietuvos Paštas case (...)

The Slovenian Competition Authority, acting for the first time under art. 82 EC, fines 130 000 EUR an abuse of dominant position in the packaging waste processing market (Slopak)
Fatur
This case started in December 2005, when packaging waste processing service provider Intersoh complained to the Slovenian Competition Authority (“SCA”) about the abusive practices of its rival Slopak in the market for processing packaging waste, which is not communal waste. The SCA started the (...)

The French Competition Authority accepts some commitments to address competition concerns in the sector of magazine press (AudiPresse)
French Competition Authority
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Conseil de la concurrence accepts Audipresse commitments to change clauses of integration of free magazines into audience survey.* As part of the litigation procedure opened against AudiPresse (formerly (...)

The Italian Competition Authority accepts commitments from the Italian electricity incumbent and closes proceedings for alleged breach of art. 82 EC without imposing sanctions (Comportamenti Restrittivi sulla Borsa Elettrica)
National University of Singapore
On 20 December 2006 the Italian Competition Authority (hereinafter, also ‘‘AGCM’’) accepted commitments by Enel S.p.a. (hereinafter, also Enel) and its subsidiary Enel Produzione S.p.a. (hereinafter, also Enel Produzione), and closed investigations in the wholesale electricity sector without (...)

The Swedish Market Court makes a preliminary reference to the ECJ on copyright management by collecting societies (Kanal 5 and TV 4)
General Court of the European Union
Introduction Since Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, the Swedish courts have been reluctant to make preliminary references to the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in all fields of law. Up until 2006, the Swedish courts had made on average 5 preliminary references per year, in (...)

The German Federal Cartel Office regards the inclusion of more than 25% of the market prices of CO2 emission certificates within the electricity prices as an abuse of dominant position pursuant to Art. 82 EC (CO2 National Allocation Plans)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
Background information on CO2 emission allowances The EU system for CO2 emission allowance trading has been in operation since 2005. Since then, companies active in CO2 emitting industries are obliged to use emission certificates for their production. These certificates are allocated free of (...)

The Cyprus Competition Authority fines the incumbent telecom provider € 38,000 for refusing to provide access to its SMS centre (CYTA / Golden Telemedia)
International Transport Forum
On December 19th, 2006 the Cyprus Commission for the Protection of Competition (C.P.C.) found the Cyprus Telecom Authority (CYTA), the incumbent telecom provider, liable for abusing its monopoly position in the upstream market for provision of access facilities necessary for value-added service (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal concludes that a statutory water provider abused its dominant position by margin squeezing on the market for transportation and treatment of non-potable water (Albion Water)
European Commission
Facts Albion Water ("Albion") is a statutory water provider based in Wales, which is licensed to provide non-potable water to an industrial client ("Shatton Paper"). The water in Wales is transported through a water transportation faclity ("Ashgrove System"), which is exclusively owned by (...)

The Spanish Competition Tribunal fines a major electricity distribution company for offering services to clients in a liberalised market on the basis of information obtained from a monopolised market (Endesa/Anisem)
European Court of Justice
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Garrigues
Spanish dominant utilities and, more generally, incumbents have reasons to fear the aftermath of a relatively unnoticed decision of 14 December 2006 (Expt. 606/05) of the highest branch of the Spanish National Competition Authority (Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia, hereinafter “TDC”) in (...)

The Italian Antitrust Authority opens airports investigations for alleged excessive prices and abuse of dominant position (Aeroporti di Roma / Milano)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Rome)
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On 14 December 2006, the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) has initiated two formal investigations on the market for the management of airport infrastructures in relation to the airports of Rome and Milan. Following a complaint by IBAR, the association representing the air carriers active in (...)

The Romanian Competition Council heavily fines low prices and market sharing on the cable TV market (UPC, Hi-Fi Quadral, Astral Telecom, Cablevision)
Gide Loyrette Nouel
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Dechert (Paris)
The Cable TV Decision (decision n° 237/2006 - the “Decision”) was rendered by the Romanian Competition Council on 12 December 2006, at the end of Romania’s pre-accession period. The thorough analysis included in the Decision may be regarded as evidence that the Council has reached a high level of (...)

The French Competition Authority adopts interim measures to protect competition in a public tendering in the maritime sector (SNCM, Corsica Ferries, Compagnie Méridionale de Navigation)
Hewlett Packard (Boulogne-Billancourt)
The Conseil de la concurrence recently issued an interim measures decision in which it ordered an injunction against the Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée (SNCM) on the grounds of Article L. 464-1 of the French Commercial Code. Background The public authorities in Corsica and the (...)

The Court of Appeal of Athens examines the concept of the abuse of dominant position in the context of the mobile telephony market (2093/2006)
University of Reading
The facts An agent selling mobile phones lodged a complaint to the Court of First Instance of Athens against its supplier claiming that the latter’s decision to terminate their agreement constituted an anti-competitive unilateral behaviour breaching the relevant national competition law (...)

The Court of Appeal of Athens rejects an abuse of dominance complaint based on discriminatory treatment of retailers (Dec. 1572/2006)
Agora Trading
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University of Reading
Facts of the case The litigation in question arose between a wholesale cigarette manufacturer and one of its distributors in Greece. Since the early 90s the plaintiff had a small business selling cigarettes on bulk to other local shops. In 1996 the defendant terminated unilaterally the (...)

Mergers

The Turkish Competition Authority cleared a merger in the airline catering services subject to remedies including modification of the exclusive purchase obligation (Turkish Airlines-DoCo)
Esin
The operation Turkish Airlines is active in the airline transportation sector which qualifies as the downstream market of the airline catering services. 49% of the Turkish Airlines is owned by the State and the remaining 51% is held by the public. DoCo is an indirect subsidiary of DO&CO (...)

The Slovak Competition Authority, after having obtained an Art. 9 ECMR referral, prohibits a merger cleared by the EC Commission for its Czech side in spite of proposed remedies (Tesco/Carrefour)
PRK Partners (Bratislava)
Slovak Competition Authority (Protimonopolný úrad, 29 December 2006, Decision 2006/FH/3/1/146, Tesco/Carrefour In September 2005 Tesco and Carrefour announced an asset swap deal involving stores and operations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Taiwan. In Slovakia the transaction involved four (...)

The Spanish Competition Authorities open an in-depth investigation into a merger for the exploitation of football broadcasting rights (Sogecable/AVS)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Madrid)
Spanish Competition Authority (Servicio de Defensa de la Competencia), 28 December 2006, Sogecable/AVS, N-6094 (Decision to refer to the competition court (Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia) for a second phase investigation“Resolución de remisión al Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia”) The (...)

The UK Office of Fair Trading clears a merger in the aggregates sector subject to divestments which ultimately led to Office of Fair Trading’s refusal to approve a purchaser (Aggregate Industries/Foster Yeoman)
Added Value Capital Partners (AVCP)
The operation Aggregate Industries Limited (“AI”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holcim Limited, is an aggregates, construction and building materials group. It produces and supplies aggregates, asphalt, concrete products and also supplies road surfacing services. It has 80 aggregate sites (...)

The German Bundeskartellamt cleared a merger in the market for waste disposal subject to remedies including the transfer of contractual rights (Remondis/SAS Schwerin)
Baker McKenzie (Dusseldorf)
The operation On 6 March 2006 the Bundeskartellamt was notified of the proposed acquisition of 49% of the shares of Schweriner Abfallentsorgungs- und Stadtreinigungsgesellschaft mbH (“SAS Schwerin”) by Remondis GmbH & Co. (“Remondis”). Remondis is part of the Remondis group, one of the (...)

The Czech Competition Office clears in phase II a merger between the two largest players on the market of pay-TV, subject to five remedies including pricing commitments (UPC/Karneval)
Clifford Chance (Prague)
The operation UPC Česká republika, a.s. ("UPC"), player No. 1 in the market of retail supply of pay-TV programmes to the final consumer in the Czech Republic, acquired the sole control over Karneval Media s.r.o. ("Karneval"), player No. 2 on the same market, and over Forecable s.r.o. As a result (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority attempts to reshape the telecoms market by imposing a complex remedies package and approving the largest ever deal in Portugal (Sonaecom/Portugal Telecom)
Uria Menéndez (Lisbon)
On 22 December 2006, the Portuguese Competition Authority (the “AdC”) adopted a landmark merger control decision under the terms of Law 18/2003, of 11 June (the Competition Act), providing clearance to the envisaged acquisition of sole control of the local telecom’s incumbent Portugal Telecom (...)

A German Court limits the Bundeskartellamt’s jurisdiction in merger cases on the basis of the de minimis doctrine (du Pont de Nemours / Pedex)
Linklaters (Dusseldorf)
Background German merger control law provides that transactions where the participating undertakings meet certain thresholds must be notified to the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”). However, the law also provides for a de-minimis provision according to which a notification is not required if the (...)

The European Commission unconditionally approves an acquisition on the paper production industry following an in-depth investigation (Glatfelter/Crompton)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 September and 31 December 2006"* On 20 December the Commission gave its unconditional approval to the proposed takeover of Crompton‘s Lydney paper mill by Glatfelter of the US. This approval followed an in-depth Phase II investigation. Glatfelter is a US (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority cleared a merger in the distribution of perfumery and toiletry sector subject to limitation of the duration of the confidentiality obligation (Hedef-Vizyon)
Esin
The operation Vizyon is a Turkish company active in the distribution of perfumery and toiletry. Mehmet Ýhsan Ender is the biggest shareholder of Vizyon with his shareholding of 55% and the transaction mostly consists of the acquisition of this 55% shareholding. The second biggest shareholder is (...)

The Turkish Competition Board clears without remedies an acquisition in the fuel sector (Total/CEPSA)
Mey
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Balcıoğlu Selçuk Akman Keki (BASEAK)
In October 2006, Total S.A. (“Total”) applied for the approval of the Competition Board (the “Board”) to acquire 4.35% shares that Banco Santander Central Hispano S.A. (“BSCH”) holds in Compania Española de Petroleos S.A. (“Cepsa”). Total already holding a total of 44.48% direct and indirect shares in (...)

The Italian Competition Authority green-lights top banks merger subject to remedies (Banca Intesa / San Paolo IMI)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Rome)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
On October 6, 2006 Banca IntesaSpa (Intesa) and SanpaoloIMI Spa (Sanpaolo), two of the main Italian listed banks, submitted to the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) the merger by incorporation of Sanpaolo with and into Intesa (the Merger). The Merger, that was cleared with conditions after a (...)

The UK Competition Commission clears a merger between two seafood companies (Pan Fish / Marine Harvest)
UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
CC formally clears Pan Fish /Marine Harvest Merger* The Competition Commission (CC) has formally cleared the anticipated acquisition by Pan Fish ASA of Marine Harvest NV. In its final report published today at www.competition-commission.org.uk, the CC has concluded that the acquisition may (...)

The US DoJ announces reforms to merger review process
Linklaters (New York)
U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division Reforms to Merger Review Process In-depth merger review in the U.S. pursuant to a "Second Request" issued by one of the antitrust agencies can be an enormously burdensome proposition that routinely costs merging parties millions of dollars and (...)

The Brussels Court of Appeal gives its opinion on the relationship between merger control and the Belgian equivalents of Art. 101 and 102 TFEU in what may be its last preliminary ruling (Rocco)
Altius (Brussels)
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Altius (Brussels)
On 15 December 2006, the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled on the relationship between the merger control rules and the general rules on restrictive practices. The court’s judgment followed a request for a preliminary ruling to the Court from the Commercial Court of Namur. Background The (...)

The Icelandic Competition Authority clears a joint venture in the retail electricity market subject to remedies, including the divestiture of a strategic stake (Landsvirkjun / Orkusalan)
PwC
The operation On 22 August 2006 the ICA was notified that Orkusalan had been founded by RARIK (36%), Orkubú Vestfjarda (OV) (36%) and Landsvirkjun (28%). The purpose of the new company was to buy, sell and produce electricity and manage real estate and connected businesses. (para. 2) (...)

The UK Competition Commission cleared in phase II a merger by accepting divestment undertakings in the market of IRMS instruments (Thermo/GVI)
Baker McKenzie (Dusseldorf)
The operation On 15 December 2006, the Office of Fair Trading referred the completed acquisition of GVI by Thermo to the Commission Commission for investigation and report. By notice of acceptance of final undertakings of 31 July 2007 the Competition Commission clears the acquisition (‘Phase (...)

The French Minister of Economy grants clearance to a merger in the market for audit and accounting services (Deloitte / JMF)
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier
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Scemla Loizon Veverka & de Fontmichel (SLV&F)
In its decision dated 15 December 2006, the French Minister granted a clearance to the acquisition of all of shares of JMF, the holding company of BDO Marque and Gendrot, by Deloitte. Through this transaction, Deloitte will acquire sole control of JMF and indirectly sole control of BDO. (...)

The Irish Competition Authority revises its guidance on merger notification criteria
Baker Botts (Brussels)
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Merilampi Attorneys
Introduction On 12 December 2006, the Irish Competition Authority issued revised guidance on merger notification criteria. The new notice modifies the Competition Authority’s 2003 guidance note on the interpretation of certain merger control provisions under the Competition Act 2002. The (...)

The UK competition authorities provide evidence on the state of merger control in the UK (House of Lords Select Committee on Regulators)
Linklaters (London)
Introduction On 14 December 2006, the UK House of Lords formed a Select Committee to consider the role and efficacy of the UK’s economic regulators, including the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission (CC). The evidence given to the Select Committee by those two bodies (...)

The German Federal Cartel Office vetoes a merger of two public hospitals (Greifswald University Hospital/Wolgast Hospital)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), 23 March 2005, Rhön-Klinikum AG, Landkreis Rhön-Grabfeld, Decision B10 - 123/04 Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), 23 March 2005, Rhön-Klinikum AG, Krankenhaus Eisenhüttenstadt GmbH, Stadt Eisenhüttenstadt, Decision B10 - 109/04 Federal Cartel (...)

The European Commission conditionally clears a merger in the development and production of equipment for pulp mills (Metso/Aker)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 September and 31 December 2006"* On 12 December the Commission gave conditional approval to a proposed acquisition by Metso Corporation Oy (“Metso”) of Finland of the pulp and power business of the Norwegian group Aker Kvaerner ASA. Both Metso and Aker (...)

The UK Competition Commission cleared a merger in the healthcare waste management sector subject to divestments (Stericycle/Sterile Technologies Group)
Serle Court
The operation Stericycle International provides healthcare risk waste services to a range of National Health Service (NHS) and other customers in Great Britain. Sterile Technologies Group (“STG”) also provides healthcare risk waste management services to healthcare risk waste producers in the (...)

The UK’s Competition Commission concludes in Phase II that a completed merger is anti-competitive and requires divestments in the clinical waste sector (Stericycle International)
Linklaters (London)
Summary The UK’s Competition Commission has concluded that a completed merger in the clinical waste sector is anti-competitive, and is requiring divestment of all or part of the acquired business. The decision follows a second-phase investigation by the Competition Commission which raised (...)

The European Commission clears, subject to divestiture, an acquisition in the healthcare sector (Johnson and Johnson /Pfizer)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 September and 31 December 2006"* On 11 December the Commission cleared Johnson & Johnson’s (“J&J”) proposed acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer healthcare business (“PCH”) subject to conditions. J&J is a leading healthcare group active worldwide in (...)

The Icelandic Competition Authority clears a merger in the retail market for books and stationery items subject to restrictions on marketing and sales (DM/Dreifingarmidstodin)
PwC
The operation On 27 April 2006, Penninn hf. notified the Icelandic Competition Authority (ICA) that it had acquired two bookstores, Bokaverslun Jonasar Tomassonar (BJT) and Bokaverslun Andres Nielsson (BAN). In its review the ICA noticed that in 2005 DM had bought Dreifingarmidstodin. DM and (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority clears merger of three cable operators (Cinven, Warburg Pincus International, Essent Kabelkom)
De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)
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Smeets Van Empel advocaten (Amsterdam)
1. Introduction On 8 December 2006 the Dutch Competition Authority (Nederlandse Mededingingsautoriteit, hereinafter "NMa") cleared the proposed takeover of Essent Kabelkom B.V. ("Kabelkom") by Cinven Limited ("Cinven") and Warburg Pincus International LLC ("Warburg Pincus"). Both Cinven and (...)

The Hungarian Competition Office holds that long-term lease agreements may constitute a notifyable concentration (Accor)
Oppenheim
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Oppenheim - Budapest
Accor-Pannonia Hotels Zrt. (a Hungarian subsidiary of the group controlled by the French company Accor SA) requested the Hungarian Competition Office (HCO) to approve its acquisition of control over two hotels in Budapest (Hotel Taverna and Hotel Liget) (the Transaction). The Transaction was (...)

The Turkish Competition Board unconditionally approves a merger in the cement sector (Afyon Çimento - Set Beton / SibCem)
Mey
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Derman Düren Akol
SibCem applied on 16 May 2008 to the Turkish Competition Board (the “Board”) for the approval of the transfer of (i) 76.51% of the shares in Afyon Çimento, (ii) 100% of the shares in Set Group HoldingA.Þ. and (iii) 100% of the shares in Set Beton (hereinafter collectively referred to as the (...)

The Italian Competition Authority conditionally clears a merger in the insurance sector (Assicurazioni Generali /Toro Assicurazioni)
Chiomenti (Rome)
The operation Generali and Toro Assicurazioni are two insurance companies based in Italy. As a result of the merger, Generali will become the second largest national operator in the field of damage insurance business, whereas the first operator is Fondiaria-SAI. More specifically, Generali (...)

The Latvian Competition Council clears an acquisition in the gasoline and diesel fuel retail market subject to divestiture (Neste)
Raidla Lejins & Norcous (Riga)
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Cobalt Legal (Riga)
The operation On 2 August 2006 the Latvian Competition Council received a merger notification from Neste Latvija SIA (Neste), where Neste informs the Competition Council of its intention to lease seven fuel stations from Alco SIA. (Preamble Paragraph 1) The market(s) The relevant product (...)

The Latvian Competition Council cleared a merger in the sector of fuel retail with behavioural remedy (Neste)
Raidla Lejins & Norcous (Riga)
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Cobalt Legal (Riga)
The operation On 2 August 2006 the Latvian Competition Council received a merger notification from Neste Latvija SIA (Neste), where Neste informs the Competition Council of its intention to lease seven fuel stations from Alco SIA. (Preamble Paragraph 1) The market(s) The relevant product (...)

The Estonian Competition Authority approves merger between two retailers on the basis of national merger regulation (VP Market and Soldino)
COBALT Legal
On 1 December 2006, the Estonian Competition Authority (ECA) approved merger between two food and grocery retailers OÜ VP Market (VP Market) and OÜ Soldino (Soldino). The merger was approved in the first phase. The ECA defined the relevant product market as retail of food and groceries in (...)

The UK Competition Commission clears a three to two merger in the insurance sector holding that the transaction would not give rise to a substantial lessening of competition (Hampden / CBS)
Winston & Strawn (London)
Introduction On 4 July 2006, the U.K. Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred the completed acquisition of CBS Private Capital Limited’s Lloyd’s members’ agency business (CBSPC) by Hampden Agencies Limited (Hampden) to the Competition Commission (CC) under the U.K. Enterprise Act 2002. After (...)

The French Minister of Economics cleared a merger in the markets of salmon production with divestiture remedy (Pan Fish/Marine Harvest)
University Paris II Panthéon‑Assas
The operation By a letter dated 1st December 2006, the French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Employment following the French Competition Council’s opinion dated 20 October 2006, authorised the acquisition of Marine Harvest N.V. (“Marine Harvest”) by Pan Fish ASA (“Pan Fish”), in the sector of (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority clears a merger in the market for telecommunication and media subject to remedies related to fixed and mobile networks activities and to media and contents activities (Sonaecom/PT merger)
PLMJ (Lisboa)
The operation The operation consisted in a merger resulting from a takeover bid launched by SONAECOM, SGPS, S.A. (Sonaecom) over PORTUGAL TELECOM, SGPS, S.A. (PT). Sonaecom is a sub-holding of the SONAE group and operating in the telecommunication, Internet and media areas, especially in the (...)

State Aid

The Finnish Supreme Administrative court prohibits the enforcement of a national measure aiming at subsidizing a construction project by an undertaking majority-owned by the national authority granting the aid until the Commission has taken its final decision on the matter (Dalbo Affärsfastigheter Ab)
Dittmar & Indrenius
Factual Background The applicant is a company operating within the construction, sale and leasing of business premises in the province of Åland. It contested the decision of the Province Government of Åland, by which the government granted a provincial guarantee of 2,587,500 euros for the (...)

The French Council of State upholds the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Douai on the existence of an alleged unlawful State aid concerning a tax perceived on publicity expenses and necessarily allocated for the financing of support measures to the press sector (SA Damart Serviposte)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
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European Court of Justice
Factual Background SA Damart is an undertaking which sells advertising spaces inside free newspapers. The claimant requested the recovery of a tax imposed on certain commercial expenses as set by Article 302 bis of the Tax code. The Minister of Economy and Finances lodged an appeal before the (...)

The French Administrative appeal court of Nantes dismisses the appeal of a tax payer resisting the payment of a tax on certain advertising expenses on the ground that the levy was not hypothecated to any State aid measures (Tax on advertising expenses)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
,
European Court of Justice
Factual Background The Minister of Economy and Finance seeks the annulment of the judgment of the administrative tribunal of Caen allowing the request of wholesalers claiming restitution for a tax paid on expenses for advertisement. The tax is set by Article 302 bis MA of the general code on (...)

The Lithuanian Constitutional Court rules that the national public broadcaster has a special constitutional mission and the State has a responsibility to ensure it receives proper financing in accordance with State aid rules (Law on Lithuanian National Radio and Television)
Raidla Lejins & Norcous
,
Valiunas Ellex (Vilnius)
Factual background The petitioner applied to the Constitutional Court requesting an investigation into whether certain provisions of the Law on Lithuanian National Radio and Television conflict with the Constitution of Lithuania (the “Constitution”). The conflicts highlighted were: (i) whether (...)

The French Council of State upholds the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Douai on the existence of an alleged unlawful State aid concerning a tax perceived on publicity expenses allocated for the financing of support measures to the press sector (ATAC)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
,
European Court of Justice
Factual Background Atac is an undertaking selling advertising spaces inside free newspapers. The claimant requested the recovery of a tax imposed on certain commercial expenses as set out by Article 302 bis of the Tax code. At first instance, the administrative tribunal of Lille held that the (...)

The French Administrative Supreme Court holds that aids to the daily press financed by a tax levied on advertising expenses affects trade between Member States and consequently amount to State aid (Auchan)
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel (Paris)
,
Eversheds (Paris)
,
Eversheds (Paris)
French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d’État, 8ème et 3ème sous-sections réunies), 21 December 2006, SA Auchan France, n°288562 Background and facts Article 23 of Law n° 97-1269 of 30 December 1997 () introduced a tax levied on certain advertising expenses (the Tax). The revenue of the Tax is (...)

The European Commission approves aid to an innovative regional equity platform for SMEs in the UK’s West Midlands to overcome market failure in risk capital (Investbx)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
,
European Commission - DG FISMA
"Commission approves aid to an innovative regional equity platform for SMEs in the UK’s West Midlands to overcome market failure in risk capital"* I. Background On 18 August 2006 the Commission adopted new Community guidelines on state aid to promote risk capital investments in small and (...)

The Danish Competition Authority finds that a municipality had incorrectly calculated the costs of the municipal service provider and orders the municipality re-calculated the latter’s costs, taking into account the guidance issued by the Competition Authority (Fritvalg - Ølstykke Kommune)
Lexxion Publisher
Factual Background A private company complained to the Danish Competition Authority (DCA) about the municipality of Ølstykke paying too low a price for the services provided by private companies in the field of home care. More importantly, the municipality had failed to adjust its prices in (...)

Procedures

The Italian Government issues legislation giving, inter alia, power to the Antitrust Authority to impose interim measures (Bersani Decree)
Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli, Partners (Roma)
,
ECR Legal (Roma)
,
Paul Hastings (Milano)
The new legislation Last July, the Italian Government issued legislation (Law Decree of 4 July 2006, named the Bersani Decree after its promoter) which, inter alia, gave the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) the power to impose interim measures. In particular, the Bersani Decree amended the (...)

The French Criminal Supreme Court confirms the criminal sanction inflicted to a company for prices below-cost practices in the domestic gas distribution sector (Pétrovex)
Université Aix-Marseille
French Criminal Supreme Court (Cour de cassation, chambre criminelle), 6 December 2006, Société Pétrovex, Decision n° 06-81947, relating to restrictive practices in domestic oil distribution sector Douai Court of appeal (Cour d’appel de Douai, 6ème chambre correctionnelle), 12 janvier 2006, Société (...)

The US Congress amends FRCP rules concerning electronically stored information clarifying e-discovery in antitrust cases
White & Case (New York)
,
As any experienced litigator of complex civil cases can attest, clarifying (and potentially containing) the scope of discovery is a critical task. Regardless of the substantive law at issue, tremendous resources often are required to fulfill the duty to preserve and disclose relevant (...)

Malta competition law and Human rights: Some insights
Superior Courts of Malta
Synthesis The following is the fruit of the author’s experience in preceding over the Commission for Fair Trading of Malta since its inception. The analysis attempts to identify gaps and other short-comings in the existing regime with an eye on issues relating to Human Rights. I. PROPER (...)

Regulatory

The UK Civil Aviation Authority publishes policy document concerning the use of its power to impose conditions on airports for anti-competitive behaviour and agrees on a MOU with the OFT (UK Airport)
Dirty Monty
The Law Under section 41 of the Airports Act 1986 (the Act) the CAA is empowered to impose conditions on certain airports in England, Scotland and Wales should they be found, after investigation, to have taken a course of conduct prohibited by the Act. Such conduct is broadly anti-competitive (...)

The Irish Competition Authority submits a report on the energy sector reform
London School of Economics
The Irish National Competition Authority (hereinafter NCA) drafted a submission entitled “Towards a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland” in response to the publication of a Green Paper of the same name by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. According to this Green (...)

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