July 2018

Anticompetitive practices

The Russian Competition Authority fines computer suppliers for cartel (Aquarius / National Computer Corporation)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
Fines to computer suppliers guilty of collusion* The total administrative fines exceed 179 million RUB The companies were found guilty of concluding an anticompetitive agreement that resulted in maintaining prices at an open electronic auction for supplying systems blocks of the “Elections” (...)

The Russian Competition Authority fines several companies for participating in a bid-rigging cartel on supplies of technological equipment for the Ministry of Defence (SpetsTekhMash / ProfBusiness / Stillag)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
ST Petersburg companies are fined 200 million rub for a cartel* St Petersburg OFAS made decision with regard to “SpetsTekhMash” Trading House” Ltd., “ProfBusiness” Ltd. and two companies with the same name “Stillag” Trading House” Ltd., for participating in a bid-rigging cartel on supplies of (...)

The EU Commission opens a formal investigation to assess whether supply agreements between Qatari petrol companies and european importers restrain competition (Qatar Petroleum)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into restrictions to the free flow of gas sold by Qatar Petroleum in Europe* The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether supply agreements between Qatar Petroleum companies exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) and (...)

The French Competition Authority fines a human resource consulting firm for non-compliance with certain remedies addressing practices implemented in the temporary employment sector (Randstad)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Temporary employment sector* The Autorité de la concurrence fines Randstad 4.5 million euros for non-compliance with certain commitments undertaken in 2009 The Autorité de la concurrence today issues a decision imposing a joint fine on companies Groupe Randstad France SAS, Randstad SAS, (...)

The Irish Court of Appeal increases criminal fine imposed on an individual director/manager for bid rigging (Aston Carpets & Flooring)
University Dublin College (UCD)
On June 20th 2018, the Irish Court of Appeal, reviewed the sentences imposed by the Central Criminal Court in 2017 on firstly, a company (Aston) and, secondly, an individual (Mr Smith) who was a director and manager of the company following their criminal convictions for having engaged in (...)

The Irish Court of Criminal Appeal increases a fine imposed on a former director for bid-rigging tenders (Aston Carpets & Flooring)
Irish Competition Authority (Dublin)
Former director fined €45,000 for bid-rigging tenders* The Court of Criminal Appeal today increased a fine handed down to a former director, Brendan Smith, for engaging in bid-rigging in the procurement of flooring contracts. Mr Smith, who is a former director of Aston Carpets & Flooring, (...)

The French and German Competition Authorities launch a joint project on algorithms and their implications on competition
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
The French Autorité de la concurrence and the German Bundeskartellamt launch a joint project on algorithms and their implications on competition* Coming along with digitalization, algorithms are becoming more and more important and at the same time progressively sophisticated. Prominent (...)

The German Federal Court clarifies controversial judgments around statute of limitations for cartel damages claims (Grauzementkartell II)
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
,
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
I. Introduction On 12 June 2018, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) passed its long-awaited landmark decision in KZR 56/16 (Grauzementkartell II). The BGH held that Sec. 33 (5) of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC) (today Sec. 33h (6) ARC), which (...)

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania upholds the decision of the Lithuanian Competition Authority in the cinema cartels case (UAB Forum Cinemas)
Lithuanian Competition Authority (Vilnius)
Supreme Administrative Court upholds Council’s decision: Cinema cartels resulted in fewer discounts for consumers* The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania rejected the appeal by UAB Forum Cinemas against the Competition Council’s decision whereby the company was fined EUR 1,384,300 for (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority carries out inspections in the fire protection sector
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Belgian Competition Authority confirms the inspection in the fire protection sector* The Investigation and Prosecution Service of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) confirms that the BCA is conducting an inspection at the premises of an enterprise active in the fire protection sector (...)

The French Competition Authority fines a professional syndicate of winemakers for an anticompetitive agreement (Syndicat général des vignerons réunis des Côtes du Rhône)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence fines the Syndicat général des vignerons réunis des Côtes du Rhône (the professional syndicate of Côte du Rhône winemakers) for an anticompetitive agreement* Based on a report submitted by the French Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud (...)

The EU Court of Justice confirms that related undertakings are not obliged to disclose links between them to the public contracting authority, and that they can submit non-concerted offers to the same bid (Šiauliai)
CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo (Madrid)
In a preliminary ruling dated 17 May 2018, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) considered that related companies are not obliged to disclose links between them when submitting separate offers for public procurement contracts. However, the contracting authority will be obliged to verify that (...)

The Turkish Competition Board publishes a decision concerning resale prices and sales conditions of authorised dealers in the paint sector (Jotun Boya Sanayi / Ticaret AŞhad)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
Introduction On May 5 2018 the Competition Board published its reasoned decision of February 15 2018 (18- 05/74-40) following its preliminary investigation into allegations that Jotun Boya Sanayi ve Ticaret AŞhad violated Article 4 of Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition. The allegations (...)

The Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission fines five companies and three company executives for bid-rigging of public tenders for institutional advertising services (Agencias de Medios)
Callol, Coca & Asociados (Madrid)
On 7 May 2018, the NMCC imposed fines amounting to €7.12 million upon five companies: Carat España, S.A.U, Inteligencia y Media, S.A. (YMEDIA), Media By Design Spain, S.A. (MEDIA BY DESIGN), Media Sapiens Spain, S.L. and Persuadé Comunicación, S.A. and three of their managers or legal (...)

The Belgian Supreme Court dismisses an appeal against an interim judgment of the Brussels Court of Appeal (Kone / Otis / Schindler / ThyssenKrupp)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 22 March 2018, the Belgian Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court”) dismissed an appeal against an interim judgment of the Brussels Court of Appeal (the “Court of Appeal”) on the damages claim introduced by the European Commission (the “Commission”). This claim arose following the Commission’s 2007 (...)

The Turkish Competition Board decides not to open an investigation against a company active in online sales of flowers, edible flowers and gifts following allegations of predatory pricing (Çiçek Sepeti)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
,
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
This case summary includes an analysis of the Turkish Competition Board’s (“Competition Board” or “Board”) Çiçek Sepeti decision (08.03.2018; 18-07/111-58). The Board reviewed the allegations put forward by Çiçek Satış A.Ş. (“Çiçek Satış”) against Çiçek Sepeti İnternet Hizmetleri A.Ş. (“Çiçek Sepeti”) (...)

The Turkish Competition Board updates its guidelines on vertical agreements
Erdem & Erdem (Istanbul)
Introduction A number of studies have been undertaken in order to revise the Guideline on Vertical Agreements ("Vertical Guideline") in line with the developments in the European Union legislation, as well as to address the needs in the relevant sectors. Following the workshop that was held on (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Russian Competition Authority reduces prices on 11 medicines of a dominant pharmaceutical company from the list of vital and essential medicines (AstraZeneca)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS reduced prices on 11 medicines of “Astrazeneca” from the list of vital and essential medicines* Prices for the medicines aimed at treating socially important diseases reduced on average 12 to 92% As a result of a constructive dialogue between FAS and “AstraZeneca” the maximum ex-works prices (...)

The Lithuanian Competition Authority closes its investigations against a bank for abuse of dominance (Swedbank)
Lithuanian Competition Authority (Vilnius)
Competition Council closes the investigation into Swedbank actions* The Competition Council closed the investigation into the compliance of Swedbank actions with the requirements of the Law on Competition upon Swedbank submitting written commitments suitable for the elimination of the alleged (...)

The German Competition Authority considers that an abuse of dominance investigation is not justified in a case where a dominant airline company significantly increased prices on certain routes where it had a monopoly (Lufthansa)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Lufthansa tickets 25-30 per cent more expensive after Air Berlin insolvency – "Price increase does not justify initiation of abuse proceeding"* After the insolvency of Air Berlin, Lufthansa held a monopoly position for a few months on some German domestic routes. After receiving numerous (...)

The Croatian Competition Authority finds that a dominant telecommunication company did not abuse its dominance through predatory pricing (VIPnet)
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
VIPnet – no abuse of dominant position* The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) found that VIPnet did not abuse a dominant position in the access to public telephone network at a fixed location for residential and/or non-residential customers, retail fixed broadband access and Pay television in (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court orders restarting the investigation of a complaint for abuse of dominant position (Oracle)
Callol, Coca & Asociados (Madrid)
On 26 February 2013, Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard Española, S.L. (jointly, HP) filed a complaint against Oracle Corporation and Oracle Ibérica, S.R.L. (jointly, Oracle) before the NMCC denouncing restrictive practices of competition in the field of relational database management systems, (...)

Mergers

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the manufacturing of pool equipment products market (Zodiac / Fluidra)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission clears Zodiac and Fluidra pool equipment joint venture, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture between the swimming pool equipment businesses of Zodiac and Fluidra. The approval is (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in the nylon production market (Solvay’s nylon business / BASF)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Solvay’s nylon business by BASF* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Solvay’s global nylon business by BASF, under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission (...)

The French Government reviews deal on public interest grounds for first time (Financière Cofigeo / Agripole group)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 June 2018, the French Ministry of Economy announced its intention to carry out, for the first time, a public interest review of Cofigeo’s acquisition of the ready meals business of Agripole. In addition to a standard merger review by the French competition authority (“FCA”), French law (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the market for the production and sale of ready meals (Financière Cofigeo / Agripole group)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Acquisition of William Saurin* The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition Financière Cofigeo of certain securities and assets of the ready meals arm of Agripole group (William Saurin, Panzani, Garbit) subject to two targeted divestments designed to maintain competition in the sector. (...)

The French Competition Authority acknowledges the decision of the Minister of Economy and Finance to use his power to reexamine the merger in the market for the production and sale of ready meals (Financière Cofigeo / Agripole group)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Acquisition of William Saurin - Reaction of the Autorité after the Minister of Economy’s decision* The Autorité de la concurrence acknowledges the decision of the Minister of Economy and Finance to use its power to reexamine the operation, cleared by the Autorité today regarding the acquisition (...)

The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court upholds the fine against a company for gun-jumping (Kauno grūdai)
Lithuanian Competition Authority (Vilnius)
Vilnius Regional Administrative Court upholds almost eur 1 million fine imposed on Kauno Grūdai* Vilnius Regional Administrative Court has rejected the appeal by AB Kauno grūdai against the Competition Council’s decision of 9 June 2017, whereby the company was fined EUR 947,700 for implementing (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in the Dutch retail mobile telecommunications market (Tele2 / T-Mobile)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL in the Netherlands* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is (...)

The UK Competition Authority fines a company for breach of an interim order during a Merger review (Electro Rent)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 11 June 2018, the CMA fined Electro Rent £100,000 for breaching an Interim Order imposed in relation to Electro Rent’s acquisition of Microlease. According to the CMA, Electro Rent had failed to obtain the CMA’s consent prior to serving a notice of termination on the lease of its only premises (...)

The French Competition Authority announces measures aimed at streamlining and simplifying merger control
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Modernization and simplification of merger control* The Autorité de la concurrence announces several measures aimed at streamlining and simplifying mergers’ procedures for companies. Last October, the Autorité launched a reflective process aimed at modernizing and simplifying merger law. (...)

The EU Commission clears for the second time a merger subject to remedies on the market for the wholesale of premium Pay TV film channels (Ziggo / Liberty Global)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission confirms approval of acquisition of Dutch cable TV operator Ziggo by Liberty Global, subject to conditions* The European Commission has reapproved with conditions, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Ziggo by Liberty Global. The merger was first approved in (...)

The Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission clears the merger of the three card payment systems operating in Spain (Servired / Sistema)
Callol, Coca & Asociados (Madrid)
The NMCC has approved, subject to commitments, the merger of the three card payment service companies operating in Spain: Servired, Sistema 4B and Euro 6000, of which practically all banking entities present in Spain were shareholders. As a result of the operation, the Spanish card payment (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission imposes to Luxembourg to recover around €120 million corresponding to illegal tax benefits granted to an energy provider (Engie)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission finds Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Engie; has to recover around €120 million* The European Commission has found that Luxembourg allowed two Engie group companies to avoid paying taxes on almost all their profits for about a decade. This is illegal under EU State (...)

The EU Commission approves compensation granted by Denmark to the incumbent postal company to fulfil its public service mission (Post Danmark)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves compensation granted by Denmark to Post Danmark for its universal service obligation* The European Commission has concluded that the compensation granted by Denmark to Post Danmark to fulfil its public service mission during the period 2017-2019 is in line with (...)

The EU Commission imposes to Germany to recover illegal aid from certain large electricity users exempted from network charges
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Germany needs to recover illegal aid from certain large electricity users exempted from network charges in Germany in 2012-2013* The European Commission has concluded that the exemption for certain large electricity users in Germany from network charges in 2012-2013 was against EU (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice rejects appeal against the publication by the Commission of confidential information (Nexans)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 12 June 2018, the Court of the Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) rejected the appeal lodged by Nexans against the Order of the President of the General Court of 23 November 2017, which had rejected Nexans’ request to prevent the publication by the Commission of confidential information in (...)

The European Parliament and Council reach a provisional political agreement concerning new rules to make national competition authorities even more effective enforcers (ECN+ Directive)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Commission welcomes provisional political agreement reached by European Parliament and Council on new rules to make national competition authorities even more effective enforcers* The European Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached today by the European Parliament and (...)

The Turkish Competition Board closes a pre-investigation on possible collusion on the construction sector and fines one undertaking for hindering on-the-spot inspection (Nuhoğlu)
Erdem & Erdem (Istanbul)
The Competition Board (“Board”), in its decision dated 21.12.2017 and numbered 17-42/669-297 (“Decision”), has imposed an administrative monetary fine on Nuhoğlu İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. (“Nuhoğlu”) for hindering on-the-spot inspections in accordance with Art. 16 (1) (d) of Act No. 4054 on the (...)

Regulatory

The French Competition Authority is asked for an opinion in the audiovisual sector by the Commission of Cultural Affairs and Education
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Audiovisual sector* The Autorité de la concurrence has been asked for an opinion in the audiovisual sector by the Commission of Cultural Affairs and Education (Commission des Affaires culturelles et de l’Education) of the National Assembly The Commission of Cultural Affairs and Education of the (...)

The French Competition Authority is asked for an opinion by the Government regarding the import and distribution of consumer goods in the French overseas departments
French Competition Authority (Paris)
French overseas territories* The Autorité de la concurrence has been asked for an opinion by the Government regarding the import and distribution of consumer goods in the French overseas departments The Ministry of Finance and Economy submitted a request, on behalf of the Government, to the (...)

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