June 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 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 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 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)
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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 US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania finds that a company was not part of a conspiracy to manipulate the supply of eggs and raise prices (In re Processed Egg Prods)
Dechert (Philadelphia)
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Dechert (Philadelphia)
The case began 10 years ago when a class of companies that purchase eggs sued the country’s leading egg producers, seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The plaintiffs claimed that the egg producers conspired to manipulate the supply and raise prices for eggs. Specifically, the buyers (...)

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 (...)

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 Indian Competition Authority opens investigation into abuse of dominance by oil and natural gas company in the market for charter hire of offshore support vehicles (Indian National Shipowners’ Association / Oil and Natural Gas Corporation)
Vaish Associates, Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI directs investigation against Oil and Natural Gas Limited (‘ONGC’) for abuse of dominant position* The CCI by way of an order dated June 12, 2018 has directed investigation under Section 26(1) of the Act against ONGC for abusing its dominant position in the relevant market for “charter hire (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal announces its provisional judgment in an appeal against the CMA’s infringement decision in an excessive price case (Pfizer / Flynn)
White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
I. Introduction In the last couple of years, there has been a trend for antitrust watchdogs around the world to investigate excessive pricing, especially in the phar- maceutical sector. Last year, the European Commission opened its first investigation into excessive pricing in the (...)

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 Indian Competition Authority conditionally clears a merger in the agrochemicals and seeds industry (Bayer / Monsanto)
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (New Delhi)
In an order dated 14 June 2018, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved Bayer AG’s (Bayer) acquisition of Monsanto Company (Monsanto) (together, the Parties) subject to certain modifications. Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. represented Monsanto and assisted in seeking the CCI’s (...)

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 Indian Competition Authority approves acquisition of global agricultural company by global pharmaceutical company subject to permanent divestments and 7-year FRAND licensing of genetically modified and non-GM agricultural products (Bayer AG / Monsanto)
Vaish Associates, Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI approves the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer AG subject to structural modifications* The CCI by its order dated June 14, 2018 has approved the proposed acquisition of Monsanto Company (Monsanto) by Bayer Aktiengesellschaft (Bayer). The CCI approved the proposed combination, subject to the (...)

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 Portuguese Competition Authority clears a merger between wind power electricity producers (New Finerge / Empreedimentos Eólicos do Rego / Eolcinf / Parque Eólico do Vale de Abade / Biowatt / Eolflor)
Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
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Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
On May 4th 2018, the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) was notified of a merger where New Finerge, S.A. (New Finerge), a company operating in the electricity production market, aimed to acquire exclusive control over five wind farm management companies: Empreedimentos Eólicos do Rego, S.A. (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on market concentration
OECD - Competition Division
Executive Summary 1. In recent years, there has been growing concern that a trend has emerged in which markets around the world are becoming more concentrated and less competitive. This is sometimes attributed to the increasingly digital and globalised nature of many markets and the firms that (...)

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 (...)

Procedures

The US Supreme Court says that judges who determine foreign law in federal courts are not strictly bound by foreign government’s statements (Animal Science Products / Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical)
Bona Law (San Diego)
In an antitrust case deciding a non-antitrust-specific issue, the US Supreme Court held in Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co.(the Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation) that to determine foreign law in federal courts, judges are not strictly bound by that foreign (...)

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 OECD holds a roundtable on leniency programmes
OECD - Competition Division
1. Introduction 1. Detection and punishment of hard core cartels has been a priority of antitrust enforcement since many years, as they represent one of the most serious violations of competition law, harming consumers and the economy as a whole alike. However, it is difficult to detect such (...)

Regulatory

The Dutch Competition Authority launches a sector inquiry into anti-rheumatic drugs
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
ACM has launched a sector inquiry into anti-rheumatic drugs* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has launched a sector inquiry into TNF inhibitors, a type of drug mainly used to treat rheumatism. TNF inhibitors are, in the Netherlands and globally, a type of prescription (...)

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 (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on e-commerce
OECD - Competition Division
1. Introduction 1. E-commerce – broadly, buying and selling online – is a global phenomenon and an important expanding distribution mechanism across the OECD. During the last decade, e-commerce activities have been growing both in the demand and supply side, as seen by the increasing number of (...)

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