March 2009

Anticompetitive practices

The French supreme Court penalizes again exchanges of information on overall sales volumes (Bouygues Télécom, SFR, Orange France / UFC Que Choisir)
Vogel & Vogel
On 7 April 2010, the Supreme Court quashed the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal which had been unusually severe in finding a restrictive agreement from information exchanges between Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom distorting the conditions for unlawfulness set out in the famous John Deere (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission issues cease and desist orders and imposes surcharges on several manufacturers and distributors of cross-linked high-foaming for having implemented a price-fixing agreement (The Furukawa Electric)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
Cease and Desist Orders and Surcharge Payment Orders against Manufacturers and Distributors of Cross-linked High-Foaming Polyethylene Sheets* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) investigated the manufacturers and distributors of cross-linked high-foaming polyethylene sheets in accordance (...)

The Hellenic Competition Commission imposes over € 1 M fines on a detergents manufacturer and six supermarkets for infringement of Art. 81 EC and its domestic equivalent (Unilever)
University of East Anglia - CCP (Norwich)
The HCC decision concerns vertical agreements entered into by Unilever Hellas with eight Greek supermarket chains, preventing them from buying Unilever products from a third party in the period 2000-2002. In effect, this banned parallel imports of those products, preventing competition between (...)

The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court holds that the absence of a party to a hard-core arrangement from the market concerned rules out an infringement of the local equivalent of Art. 81 EC by this party (Vegetable Oil Manufacturers and Suppliers / CPC)
Kinstellar (Sofia)
The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court (“SAC”) thrashed out the fundamentals of the notion of “anticompetitive agreement” under the local equivalent of Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty in a recent cartel case judgment. The aftermath is somewhat cryptic but possibly instructive: the SAC held that (...)

The ECJ Advocate General Bot champions narrow reading of “actual impact on the market” criterion (Erste Group Bank)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
In his opinion delivered on 26 March 2009 in the Austrian Bankscase, Advocate General Bot recommended that the ECJ quash an earlier judgment of the CFI and lower the fines imposed on certain Austrian banks for their involvement in cartel practices. The Advocate General upheld the appellants’ (...)

The Austrian Supreme Court in competition matters confirms € 1.9 million fine imposed on industrial chemicals wholesale cartel (Donau Chemie and Donauchem)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
1. Introduction and background By judgment of 25 March 2009 in Case 16 Ok 4/09, the Austrian Supreme Court in competition matters (Oberster Gerichtshof als Rekursgericht in Kartellrechtssachen) confirmed a judgment of 24 October 2008 (Case 29 Kt 132, 133/07-54) of the Vienna High Court in (...)

The Austrian Supreme Court considers a shopping centre’s non-competition provision to be valid under the cartel-ban provision (McArthurGlen / Europark)
Salzburg University
On 25 March, 2009, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that a shopping centre’s “radius-clause” provision (i.e. non-competition provision) is not anti-competitive because it does not make a significant contribution to the sealing-off effect brought about by the totality of such agreements in their (...)

The Austrian Supreme Court voids a judgment of the Cartel Court on the assessment of a "radius clause" provided for in the lease agreements of a shopping centre (UNO Shopping/PlusCity)
Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte
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Bpv Hügel (Vienna)
In a decision of 25 March 2009, the Austrian Supreme Court decided to void a judgment of the Cartel Court on the assessment of a "radius clause" provided for in the lease agreements of a shopping centre in the Linz area. 1. Facts and decision at first instance The case at hand is the result (...)

The Hungarian Parliament adopts an amendment limiting the liability of leniency applicants and introducing new calculation of amount of damages
Sczecskay Attorneys
This article was prepared for the UIA-AIJA seminar "Antitrust and Unfair Competition Developments Forum", held in Brussels on April 24-25, 2009. (More information: on www.uianet.org and www.aija.org websites). On March 23, 2009, the Hungarian Parliament adopted an amendment to the Competition (...)

The European Court of Justice upholds fine imposed in sodium gluconate cartel case (Archer Daniels Midland)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 March 2009, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) dismissed an action brought by Archer Daniels Midland (“ADM”) against the judgment of the Court of First Instance (“CFI”) upholding the Commission’s decision in the sodium gluconate cartel case. In October 2001, the Commission imposed fines (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority finds illegal vertical resale price fixing without imposing fine (Castrol Hungária)
Oppenheim
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Oppenheim - Budapest
Description of the impugned case The case concerned a straightforward RPM arrangement (minimum prices). Analysing the wording and the context of the relevant clause, the HCO found that it indeed contained an RPM arrangement and did not accept Castrol Hungária’s defence that the minimum prices (...)

A French Court rules that search engines are not liable for the way a company is presented in their search results (Publison System v. Google France & Yahoo France)
Google (Paris)
A French firm discovered that results returned by major search tools pointed to excerpts of a website criticizing it. It sued the search tools, claiming they were disparaging. A French court of appeals finds that this neither constitutes unfair competition nor gives rise to liability. Facts (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission issues cease and desist orders and imposes surcharges on air freight forwarders for having implemented a price-fixing agreement (Nippon Express)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
Cease and Desist Order and Surcharge Payment Order Against Air Freight Forwarders* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (hereinafter referred to as “JFTC”) had investigated companies engaged in international air freight forwarding business , under the provisions of the Antimonopoly Act (hereinafter (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal annuls a decision by the French Competition Council fining 7 physicians’ unions for colluding to increase their fees (Union nationale des médecins spécialistes confédéés a. o. vs Association Familles rurales)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Paris)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Paris)
In a ruling of 18 March 2009, the Paris Court of Appeal (the "Court") annulled a decision by the French Competition Council (the "Decision" and the "Council") to fine 7 physicians’ unions for an agreement among their members to increase fees charged to patients. These practices ran for varying (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission issues cease and desist orders and imposes surcharges on several distributors of industrial sewing machine threads for sewing plants for having implemented a price-fixing agreement (Shirakawa, Azuma and Kanagawa)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
Cease and Desist Orders and Surcharge Payment Orders against Distributors of Industrial Sewing Machine Threads for Sewing Plants, etc. Located in the Tohoku Area* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC)investigated the distributors of industrial sewing machine threads for sewing plants, etc. (...)

The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt decides on non-competition clauses to the detriment of minority shareholders (Minderheitsgesellschafter)
Gleiss Lutz (Munich)
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Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (Munich)
On 17 March 2009, the German Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt decided on the compatibility with competition law of non-competition clauses to the detriment of minority shareholders. The question at stake was whether a non-competition clause to the detriment of a minority shareholder generally (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal confirms decision against French mobile operators in exchange of information case (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 11 March 2009, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the French Competition Council’s decision of 30 December 2005 in which it found inter aliathat, by engaging in the exchange of confidential information, three French mobile operators, Orange (France Télécom Group), SFR (Vivendi Group) and (...)

The Turkish Competition Board grants the benefit of the vertical agreement block exemption Communiqué to a distribution agreement and the related usufruct agreement in the liquid fuel sector (Pol Pet / M-Oil)
Erdem & Erdem
The Competition Board, by its decision No. 09-09/186-56, dated 05 March 2009, reviewed the distribution agreement and the related usufruct agreement between Pol-Pet Petrol Ürünleri Tur. Konaklama ve Din Tesisleri Ltd. Şti. and M-Oil, and decided that the parties can benefit from an exemption whose (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal suspends publication obligation on aviation fuel cartelists (Chevron-Texaco, Total, Exxon Mobil and Shell)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 4 March 2009, the President of the Paris Court of Appeal partially suspended the decision of the French Competition Council against fuel companies of the Chevron-Texaco, Total, Exxon Mobil and Shell groups. On 4 December 2008, the French Competition Council (which has now been replaced by (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice on the basis of Art. 102 TFEU decides on a dominant position resulting from the upstream possibility to restrict downstream competition (Reisestellenkarte)
Gleiss Lutz (Munich)
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Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (Munich)
On 3 March 2009, the German Federal Court of Justice reversed the judgement of the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf and remitted the case back for further proceedings. The question at stake was whether an undertaking could be regarded as dominant according to Art. 102 TFEU if due to its (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority grants an individual exemption for the exclusive distribution agreements concluded by the leading sugar products manufacturer with its distributors (Cadbury Romania)
University of Technology (Tallinn)
Summary The Romanian Competition Authority granted an individual exemption under Article 5(1) of the Competition Law n° 21/1996, a provision equivalent to Article 81(3) EC for a series of exclusive distribution contracts concluded between leading sugar products manufacturer SC Cadbury Romania (...)

The Moldovan Competition Authority finds the existence of cartel on the market for international motor insurance (Green Card)
University of Technology (Tallinn)
The Moldovan Competition Authority found the existence of a cartel on the market for international motor insurance “Green Card” composed of five insurance companies Asito, Moldasig, Moldova Astrovaz, and Grawe Carat Asigurãri who fixed the prices for the Green Card insurance policies. On 3 March (...)

The Budapest Court of Appeals rejects an appeal concerning a global cartel in the gas insulated switchgear market (Alstom, Siemens)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Budapest Court of Appeals has recently confirmed a judgment of the Budapest Metropolitan Court in a case brought by Siemens Aktiengesellschaft Österreich (Austria), Alstom Holding S.A. (France) and Siemens AG (Germany) concerning a global cartel in the gas insulated switchgear market. The (...)

Unilateral Practices

The ECJ Advocate General Bot recommends dismissing a recycling company’s appeal for abusive judgment (Der Grüne Punkt - Duales System Deutschland)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
On 31 March 2009, Advocate General Bot delivered his opinion in the appeal of Duales System Deutschland (“DSD”) against a 2007 CFI judgment holding that the German recycling company’s licensing scheme for its “Green Dot” logo constituted an abuse of a dominant position. The Advocate General (...)

The Slovak Competition Authority upholds fine against incumbent telecommunications operator for “margin squeeze” practices (Slovak Telecom)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
In a recently published decision of 27 March 2009, the Slovakian Competition Authority (“CA”) upheld a first instance decision of 28 October 2008 imposing a fine of approximately € 2.4 million on Slovak Telecom (“ST”), the incumbent provider of telecom services in Slovakia. The investigation dates (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority fines the leading gas supplier for an abuse of dominant position (Gas Natural 2)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
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Garrigues
The higher branch of the Spanish Competition Authority (Consejo de la Comisión Nacional de la Competencia or CNC) imposed on March 26 2009 a fine of €492,000 to the leading Spanish gas supplier, Gas Natural, for an abuse of its dominant position within the meaning of Article 6 of the 1989 Spanish (...)

The French Competition Authority imposes a fine on electricity supplier for publicly denigrating its competitor (Gaz et Electricité de Grenoble)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
On 25 March 2009, the French Competition Authority imposed a €320,000 fine on Gaz et Electricité de Grenoble (GEG) for abusing its dominant position on the market for electricity supply to small professionals in the service area of Grenoble by publicly denigrating its competitor, Poweo, in (...)

The Latvian Competition Council adopts a decision finding an abuse of dominant position in the freeport of Riga management and towing services market (Freeport of Riga Authority)
PwC (Riga)
On March 24, 2009, the Latvian Competition Council (CC) adopted a decision finding an infringement of competition rules by the Freeport of Riga Authority (FRA), which was accused of abusing its dominant position in order to restrict competitor’s commercial activities in the related market. The (...)

The European Court of First Instance examines a recourse against Commission’s decision to reject complaint against a leading alcohol manufacturer (Protégé International)
Van Bael & Bellis
On 16 May 2009, a notice was published in the Official Journal of the EU announcing that Protégé International is taking the European Commission to court over its January 2009 decision to reject a competition law complaint brought by Protégé International against Pernod Ricard. Protégé (...)

The Hellenic Competition Commission finds abusive the behaviour of a trade union benefiting of special and exclusive rights (Association of Merchants of the Central Vegetable Market of Athens and Thessaloniki / Union of Loaders, Unloaders and Carriers of Fresh Products of the Central Vegetable Market of Athens and Thessaloniki)
TM Law Offices
The case concerned a complaint filed in the Hellenic Competition Commission (hereinafter HCC) by the Association of Merchants of the Central Vegetable Market of Athens and the Association of Merchants of the Central Vegetable Market of Thessaloniki, alleging that the Union of Loaders, Unloaders (...)

The French Competition Authority accepts the commitments made by the telecommunications incumbent to address competitions concerns about the marketing of its wholesale broadband offers (Mediaserv / France Télécom)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Marketing of wholesale broadband offers: France Télécom makes commitments before the Autorité de la concurrence, designed to improve the quality of services provided to third-party operators in France’s overseas (...)

The European Commission adopts a commitment decision concerning a possible abuse of a dominant position in the German gas transmission markets (RWE)
European Commission - DG ENER
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DG REGIO Regional and urban policy
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European Commission - DG SANCO
"The RWE gas foreclosure case: Another energy network divestiture to address foreclosure concerns"* I. Introduction On 18 March 2009 the Commission adopted a commitment decision against RWE AG for suspected infringement of EU competition law. The commitments were offered by RWE to address the (...)

The French Supreme Court confirms rebutting of an appeal against an NCA’s decision sanctioning predatory pricing in the market for sodic cefuroxime (GlaxoSmithKline)
White & Case (Paris)
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Cullen International
On 17 March 2009, the French Supreme Court confirmed a case dated 8 April 2008 in which the Paris Court of Appeal overruled a decision by the French NCA (the “NCA”) sanctioning GlaxoSmithLine (“GSK”) for predatory pricing in the market for sodic cefuroxime. Background This case does not reflect (...)

The EU Commission sends statement of objections to an energy group regarding its management and operation of natural gas transmission pipelines (ENI)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
On 6 March 2009, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections to the Italian ENI group, setting out its preliminary view that the management and operation of natural gas pipelines by ENI may constitute one or more abuses. In particular, the Commission alleges that ENI, the largest producer, (...)

The Austrian Cartel Court re-examines margin squeeze case against the incumbent telecommunication operator (Telekom Austria)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
According to a press release of 6 March 2009, the Austrian Higher Cartel Court has referred a case involving an allegation of margin squeeze by Telekom Austria TA AG back to the Austrian Cartel Court. The case concerns Telekom Austria‘s “KombiP2007” package offer of bundled internet, mobile and (...)

The Italian Antitrust Authority opens an investigation for an alleged abuse of dominance in the market for plasterboards (Mercato del Cartongesso)
Ministry of Economic Development (Italy)
On 5 March 2009, the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) initiated an investigation in relation to the possible abuse of dominant position allegedly carried out by Saint-Gobain Ppc Italia S.p.A. (Saint-Gobain) in the Italian plasterboards market. Saint-Gobain is part of a large multinational (...)

The Italian Competition Authority opens an investigations for violation of Art. 82 EC in the plasterboard market (Saint-Gobain)
Ashurst
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Legance - Studio Legale Associato
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Banca d’Italia (Italian Central Bank)
Background On 5 March 2009, the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, “AGCM”) launched an investigation for possible violation of Article 82 EC and Article 3 of Law 10 October 1990 n° 287 (corresponding to Article 82 EC) by Saint-Gobain Ppc Italia S.p.A. (...)

The European Commission removes the trustee provisions from a 2004 decision (Microsoft)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
On 4 March 2009, the Commission announced that it had adopted a Decision removing the Trustee provisions from the 2004 Microsoft Decision and repealed the subsequent 2005 Trustee Decision which was adopted on the basis of the 2004 Decision. According to the Commission, it found that the Trustee (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority fines funeral services public undertaking for exclusionary practices (EFEMSA)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
On 3 March 2009, the Spanish Competition Authority adopted a decision finding that EFEMSA, a public undertaking charged with the provision of funeral services in Majorca, engaged in exclusionary practices contrary to the Spanish provision equivalent to Article 82 EC. EFEMSA is controlled by the (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice upholds refusal to supply case in the market for travel lodge cards (Lufthansa)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Practising Law Institute
According to a press release, the German Federal Court of Justice, in its decision dated 3 March 2009, upheld a decision of the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, finding that Deutsche Lufthansa AG had abused its dominant position by refusing to supply the authorisations required to allow (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court deals with allegations of abuse of dominant position and refusal to supply derived from former legal monopolies of tobacco products (McLane España, Tabacalera)
University College London
Introduction The present case reveals the challenges posed by the implementation of de-regulatory measures. Indeed, after many years of granting a legal monopoly over the manufacturing and distribution of tobacco products, Spain decided to supersede it by opening such market to new (...)

The French Supreme Court clarifies the use of the indispensable input criterion in a margin squeeze case (SFR-France Télécom)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The French Supreme Court decided a margin squeeze case in the telecom sector after long proceedings and ten years after an undertakings’ association filed its complaint. In this case, the French branch of the European Telecom and Networks Association (ETNA) complained before the French (...)

Mergers

The Dutch Competition Authority conditionally clears in phase II an hospital merger based on efficiency arguments (Ziekenhuis Walcheren / Oosterscheldeziekenhuizen)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
Background to the case More than 3.5 years after the first notification of the merger, the Dutch competition authority (NMa) cleared the merger between Ziekenhuis Walcheren and Oosterscheldeziekenhuizen, two hospitals in Zeeland (the Netherlands). The merger process started in September 2005 (...)

The Irish High Court overturns an NCA merger decision, finding the determination vitiated by material error in two respects, with particular focus on the significance of countervailing buyer power (Rye Investments)
Arthur Cox (Dublin)
On 19th March, 2009, the Irish High Court annulled the decision of the Irish Competition Authority (“ICA”) to block Kerry Group’s proposed acquisition of one its major competitors, Breeo Foods. Kerry’s acquisition of Breeo was notified to the ICA in March 2008. The proposal affected a number of (...)

The Irish High Court annuls the determination of the Competition Authority to block a merger in a landmark ruling (Kerry / Breeo)
London School of Economics
Notified acquisition Pursuant to sections 16 and 18 of the Competition Act 2002, which set out the duty to notify mergers or acquisitions which exceed stipulated thresholds to the Competition Authority (NCA), Kerry Group (Kerry) notified its intention to acquire Breeo Foods (Breeo) to the NCA (...)

The Chinese MOFCOM halts acquisition of a leading Chinese juice producer by a foreign buyer (Coca-Cola/Huiyuan)
Kastell
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Linklaters (Beijing)
On March 18 2009, the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) prohibited the acquisition by The Coca-Cola Company of the Huiyuan Juice Group. This is the first prohibition decision under the merger regime in Chinas new Anti-Monopoly Law which came into force on 1 August last (...)

The Chinese MOFCOM blocks $2.4 billion acquisition of a leading Chinese juice producer by a foreign buyer (Coca-Cola / Huiyuan)
White & Case (Beijing)
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Mattel (Hong Kong)
On March 18, MOFCOM announced that it had blocked Coca-Cola’s proposed $2.4 billion acquisition of China Huiyuan Juice Group, a leading Chinese juice producer. It is MOFCOM’s second reported merger decision under the recently enacted Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”), which came into effect August 1, 2008 (...)

The Chinese MOFCOM prohibits for the first time since the entry into effect of the new anti-monopoly law, a merger between a US soft drinks manufacturer and a Chinese juice producer (Coca-Cola / Huiyuan)
WilmerHale (Washington)
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WilmerHale (Washington)
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Kirkland & Ellis (Washington)
On March 18, 2009, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced that it had blocked Coca-Cola’s proposed acquisition of Chinese Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd. (Huiyuan) under Article 28 of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML). This was MOFCOM’s first merger prohibition since the AML came into effect on (...)

The Chinese Antitrust Authority denies merger approval between US leading soft drinks and Chinese juice manufacturers (Coca Cola Company, Huiyuan)
Jones Day (Beijing)
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Jones Day (Beijing)
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Winston & Strawn (New York)
Today the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced that it had denied antitrust approval of The Coca-Cola Company’s proposed acquisition of a famous Chinese Juice manufacturer, China Huiyuan Juice Group Limited («Huiyuan»). MOFCOM’s decision to block the Coke deal, after its conditional (...)

The European Commission conditionally approves an acquisition of a German company active in the construction of turnkey industrial plants by an investment company (IPIC/Man Ferrostah)
"Mergers: main developments between 1 January and 30 April 2009"* On 13 March 2009, under the EU Merger Regulation, the European Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of MAN Ferrostaal of Germany, a general contractor that constructs turnkey industrial plants, by International Petroleum (...)

The Romanian Competition Council clears 3 mergers in the retail sale market (Carrefour/Artima - Delhaize/La Fourmi - Auchan/MGV)
Peli Filip
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Peli Filip
During the past years the Competition Council (the “Council”) was engaged in quite an intense activity of merger clearance, as the constant growth of Romanian economy attracted both national and international investments. A significant increase was registered particularly on the market of retail (...)

The Turkish Council of State orders stay of execution of Competition Board’s remedies inherent to its conditional clearance decision in daily political newspapers market (Vatan Newspaper/ Dogan Group)
Hewlett Packard (Istanbul)
Background On 10 March 2008, the Turkish Competition Board has conditionally cleared the acquisition of Vatan Newspaper (Vatan) by Doðan Gazetecilik A.Þ. (Doðan Group) - the biggest media holding both in terms of audience and advertisement revenues- , by accepting the “failing company defense”. (...)

The German Cartel Office initiates new investigation of a previously cleared acquisition and imposes additional conditions (Werhahn & Nauen)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
In a recently published decision of 9 March 2009, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) opened a new investigation and imposed additional conditions on a previously cleared concentration in the asphalt sector. In 2005, the FCO cleared the acquisition by Werhahn & Nauen of several entities (...)

A US District Court grants FTC request for preliminary injunction to block a 3-2 transaction in the market for electronic systems used to estimate the cost of collision repairs (CCC Holdings / Aurora Equity Partners)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Washington)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (New York)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Washington)
On March 18, 2009, Judge Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia released the public version of a significant opinion supporting her order granting the FTC a preliminary injunction in connection with the proposed $1.4 billion merger of CCC Information Systems (...)

The US FTC agrees to settle a merger case with US leading organic food supermarket (Whole Foods Market)
Jones Day (Houston)
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Jones Day (Washington)
Today the Federal Trade Commission and Whole Foods Markets settled the FTC’s challenge to Whole Foods‘ 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Markets, which the agency alleged would lessen competition in the operation of « premium natural and organic supermarkets. » Although not an unmitigated victory for (...)

The French Ministry of Economics unconditionally clears a merger of companies providing beverages to the catering and the foodservice industries after ruling out potential vertical effects on competition (Pedandel SAS/Sedab/Vision/CaféIn)
RBB Economics (London)
The firm Pedandel SAS (hereafter “Pedandel” or “Groupe Bertrand Distribution”) acquired the companies making up part of the French distribution subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Inbev (hereafter “ABI”). Pedandel is active in the provision and distribution of beverages (including beer, mineral water and (...)

The Italian Antitrust Authority clears with remedies the merger between the two main operators for credit card business (Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane - Cartasì)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Rome)
On 27 March 2009, the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA) conditionally cleared the acquisition of SI Holding (SI), the financial holding company controlling the CartaSì Group, by Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane (ICBPI). Both SI and ICBPI are controlled by Italian banks, which (...)

The European Commission conditionally clears a merger between two Danish co-operatives slaughterhouses (Danish Crown / Vestjyske Slagterier)
European Commission - DG TRADE
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European Commission - DG TRADE
"Mergers: Recent developments and important decisions"* In the case Danish Crown/Vestjyske Slagterier the Commission concluded that the operation would have led to the creation of a duopolistically dominant position of the parties together with another large Danish co-operative slaughterhouse. (...)

State Aid

The European Commission temporary approves the illiquid asset back-up facility provided by the Dutch State to a financial group (ING Group)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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Groupe Holder
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"State aid: main developments between 1 January and 30 April 2009"* On 31 March 2009, the Commission approved for 6 months the illiquid asset back-up facility provided by the Dutch State to the financial group ING, while at the same time initiating the formal investigation procedure laid down (...)

The European Commission authorises € 800 M of public funding for a comprehensive support programme aimed at the Spanish textile and clothing sector
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
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Groupe Holder
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"State aid: main developments between 1 January and 30 April 2009"* On 24 March 2009, the Commission authorised €800 million of public funding for a comprehensive support programme aimed at the Spanish textile and clothing sector. The programme comprises measures to promote technical research, (...)

The Swedish Administrative Court of Appeal in Göteborg finds that the decision taken by a municipality board to participate in a subscription of shares in a company owned by the municipality constitutes illegal aid to an undertaking (Ingemar Basth)
Swedavia AB
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General Court of the European Union (Luxembourg)
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Öberg & Associés
Factual Background In 2007, the municipality board in Ulricehamn decided to participate in a subscription of shares in a company owned by the municipality to a total value of 15 million SEK. A private citizen resident in the municipality brought court proceedings in accordance with the Local (...)

The European Commission extends the application of the communication concerning national aid schemes supporting the production of cinematographic and other audiovisual works (Cinema Communication)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Commission has decided to extend the application of the Cinema Communication, adopted in 2001, until the end of 2012. The 2001 Cinema Communication sets out the criteria that the Commission uses in its assessment of national aid schemes supporting the production of cinematographic and other (...)

The European Commission proposes change to the directive on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission proposes change to Transparency Directive"* The Commission has accepted on 30 March 1999 a draft amendment to the so-called Transparency Directive 80/723/CEE. This Directive in its present form allows the Commission to investigate into the financial relations between Member States (...)

Procedures

The Macedonian Competition Authority releases its 2008 Annual Report
University of Technology (Tallinn)
On 31 March 2009 the Macedonian Competition Authority (Комисијата за заштита на конкуренцијата) (KZK) released its annual report summarizing competition law enforcement activities undertaken in 2008. Legislative amendments and secondary regulations In its Annual Report KZK applauded recent amendments of the competition law (...)

The European Parliament adopts report on White Paper on damages
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 March 2009, the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the European Commission’s White Paper on damages actions for breach of EC antitrust rules, backing a report of the European Parliamentary Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON Committee) of 2 March 2009, setting (...)

The Canadian Parliament adopts major amendments to the Competition Act including new hybrid ”dual-track” conspiracy provisions and new merger review process (Bill C-10 The Budget Implementation Act, 2009)
Université de Laval
On March 12, 2009, the Canadian Government passes Bill C-10, an Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures(the Budget Implementation Actor Bill C-10), which contains fiscal and economic measures dealing with the current (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal rules, for the first time ever, against a Competition Commission’s market investigation remedy (Tesco)
RBB Economics (London)
Summary On 4 March 2009 the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld Tesco’s appeal against a remedy proposed by the Competition Commission (the Commission) based on its wide-ranging investigation into the UK grocery market published on 30 April 2008. Tesco had challenged only one aspect of (...)

The new French Competition Authority helds its first meeting
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 2 March 2009, the new French Competition Authority held its first meeting, since the transfer of competences provided for in the French law on modernisation of the economy (LME) adopted on 4 August 2008. The LME established a new single Competition Authority consolidating the powers and (...)

The Serbian Competition Authority released its 2008 Annual Report
University of Technology (Tallinn)
The Serbian Competition Authority issued its 2008 Annual Report where it summarized its enforcement and other activities carried out in 2008. Anticompetitive Practices In 2008 the KZK analyzed 20 agreements submitted for the individual exemption by the parties. Twelve cases have been resolved (...)

The Estonian Government presents draft leniency programme
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Estonian Ministry of Justice recently set out draft amendments to its leniency programme, which aim at increasing the number of cartels being uncovered and to allow cartel participants greater security with regard to the receipt of immunity for informing the authorities of a cartel. (...)

The European Commission prepares the questionnaires for the reassessment of the competition rules applicable to Internet commerce
Van Bael & Bellis
It has been reported that the Commission is currently preparing questionnaires in the context of its reassessment of the competition rules applicable to Internet commerce in view of the expiry of the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation in May 2010. These questionnaires will be sent (...)

The Norwegian Government proposes amendment to leniency rules
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform has proposed amendments to the Norwegian leniency regime in order to make the fight against cartels more effective. The proposal issued in December 2008 sets out three principal changes. Firstly, the scope of the leniency rules (...)

Regulatory

The Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court annuls an NCA’s decison on unfair pricing for use of public telecommunications infrastructures and sends the case back for reinvestigation (Vilniaus Energija)
Lithuanian Competition Council
On 27 March 2009 the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court (LSAC or the Court) annulled the NCA’s unfair pricing decision in Vilniaus Energija and sent the case back to the Competition Council for reinvestigation. In doing this, LSAC overruled the earlier judgment of the Vilnius District (...)

The French Competition Authority issues two new favourable opinions on inter-branch agreements granting dispensation from the new rules on payment timeframes in the building and civil engineering materials-products and sanitary-heating-electrical equipment sectors
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Payment timeframes: The Autorité de la concurrence issues two new favourable opinions concerning derogating agreements in the building and civil engineering materials-products and sanitary-heating-electrical (...)

The Romanian Competition Authority opens public consultation on the preliminary report of the sector inquiry on the market for cereals used in the bakery industry (Raport privind investigaþia utilã pentru cunoaterea pieþei cerealelor de panificaþie)
University of Technology (Tallinn)
In September 2007 the Romanian Competition Authority (Consiliul Concurenţei) (CC) launched a sector inquiry on the market for cereals used in the bakery industry. The preliminary report was completed in February 2009 and released for public consultation in March. The CC invited interested (...)

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