October 2017

Anticompetitive practices

The German Competition Authority launches a sector inquiry into online price comparison websites
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt launches sector inquiry into comparison websites* The Bundeskartellamt has launched a sector inquiry into "online price comparison websites". Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "Every day millions of consumers gather information by using price comparison (...)

The EU General Court endorses selective distribution of spare parts for luxury watches (CEAHR)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 October 2017, the General Court of the European Union (the “Court”) dismissed an action brought by Confédération européenne des associations d’horlogers-réparateurs (“CEAHR”) against the European Commission (the “Commission”) for the annulment of the Commission’s decision to reject a complaint (...)

The EU General Court holds that watch manufacturers are allowed to restrict the supply of watch parts only to approved repairers (CEAHR)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
In July 2004, the European Confederation of Watch and Clock Repairers’ Association (“CEAHR”) led a complaint with the Commission arguing that there was (i) an agreement or a concerted practice between a number of luxury watch manufacturers and (ii) an abuse of dominant positionresulting from (...)

The French Competition Authority fines three undertakings and a trade association € 302 in a cartel case in the PVC and linoleum floor sector (Forbo / Gerflor / Tarkett / SFEC)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 October 2017, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) issued a decision imposing nes totalling € 302 million on three ooring companies (Forbo, Ger or and Tarkett) and a trade association (Syndicat Français des Enducteurs Calandreurs: the “SFEC”) for engaging in cartel activities between 1990 (...)

The French Competition Authority fines three leading manufacturers of PVC and linoleum floor covering for cartel (Tarkett)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité has imposed sanctions totalling €302 million on the three leading manufacturers of PVC and linoleum floor covering, as a penalty for price fixing among other pratices.* Background Acting on information submitted by the Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU General Court issues a ruling on mandatory access and interoperability in the software industry (Contact Software)
Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Amsterdam)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
The European General Court’s ("GC") decision relates to a complaint filed with the European Commission ("EC") by Contact Software, a German software supplier of Product Data Management ("PDM"). Contact Software alleged an abuse of dominance by Dassault Systèmes and Parametric Technology Corp., as (...)

The EU Commission fines a Lithuanian Railways company for abuse of dominance on rail freight market (Lietuvos geležinkeliai)
European Commission - DG COMP
Antitrust: Commission fines Lithuanian Railways €28 million for hindering competition on rail freight market* The European Commission has fined Lithuanian Railways (Lietuvos geležinkeliai) an amount of €27 873 000 for hindering competition on the rail freight market, in breach of EU antitrust (...)

Mergers

The EU General Court annuls a Commission’s conditional merger clearance in the audiovisual sector (Liberty Global / Ziggo)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the General Court annulled the European Commission’s conditional merger clearance decision in Liberty Global/Ziggo. The Commission had approved the acquisition of Ziggo by Dutch rival cable TV operator Liberty Global in 2014, subject to extensive conditions including the (...)

The EU General Court dismisses an appeal against a Commission decision for implementing acquisition of sole control without first obtaining approval under the EU Merger Regulation (Marine Harvest / Morpol)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the General Court dismissed an appeal by Marine Harvest against a € 20 million fine imposed on it by the Commission for implementing its acquisition of sole control over Morpol without rst obtaining approval under the EU Merger Regulation (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume (...)

The EU General Court orders fresh review of a merger (Liberty Global/Ziggo)
Dechert (Brussels)
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Dechert (Brussels)
The EU lower court has overturned a 2014 merger clearance by the European Commission (EC) following an appeal by a third party. Overturning the clearance does not mean that the deal is now prohibited. Instead, the case goes back to the EC, and the parties have to re-notify. At best this is (...)

The EU General Court sets aside the Commission’s approval decision of a merger in the market for television and telecommunication services (KPN - Liberty Global / Ziggo)
Desogus Law Office (Cagliari)
By the judgment recently rendered in the KPN/Commission case , the General Court of the EU (GC) has quashed the decision previously made by the European Commission by which it gave a conditional go-ahead to the Ziggo acquisition by Liberty Global. The appeal was filed by a competitor of the (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the cured meat sector (Cooperl Arc Atlantique / Financière Turenne Lafayette)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 October 2017, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) cleared Cooperl Arc Atlantique’s acquisition of control of the cured meat division of Financière Turenne Lafayette. The FCA granted a derogation on 24 May 2017 to allow the buyer to acquire control of the target company prior to FCA (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger on the cured meat products market (Financière Turenne Lafayette/ Coorperl Arc Atlantique)
European Commission - DG COMP
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of full control of the cured meats’ division of Financière Turenne Lafayette (Paul Prédault, Madrange…) by Coorperl Arc Atlantique (Brocéliande)* Parties to the operation On 4 May 2017, Cooperl Arc Atlantique (VériTable, L’atout prix or (...)

The Hellenic Competition Authority clears an acquisition of joint control over a dairy milk company subject to commitments (Delta Foods / Mevgal)
Prentoulis Gerakini Law Partnership (Athens)
Under its decision No. 650/2017 the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) approved the acquisition of joint control of Mevgal SA by Delta Food SA and members of the Hatzakou family. Delta Food S.A., member of the Vivartia Group of companies, produces and distributes dairy products such as, (...)

The UK Government proposes greater intervention in national security and infrastructure mergers
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
On October 17, 2017, the UK Government published legislative proposals that would give it greater powers to intervene in mergers that raise national security considerations or involve national infrastructure. In the short-term, any transaction involving a party active in the manufacture or (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation into statutory rules that exempt certain financing income earned by foreign subsidiaries (United Kingdom)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the European Commission (the Commission) opened an in-depth investigation into UK statutory rules that exempt certain financing income earned by foreign subsidiaries of UK corporate taxpayers from UK tax. The Commission’s investigation will focus on whether the UK Controlled (...)

The EU Commission pursues Ireland before the Court of justice for failure to recover illegal tax benefits from an American multinational technology company (Apple)
European Commission - DG COMP
State aid: Commission refers Ireland to Court for failure to recover illegal tax benefits from Apple worth up to €13 billion* The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover from Apple illegal State aid worth up to €13 billion, as (...)

The EU Commission concludes that Luxembourg has granted undue tax benefits to an electronic commerce company (Amazon)
European Commission - DG COMP
State aid: Commission finds Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon worth around €250 million* The European Commission has concluded that Luxembourg granted undue tax benefits to Amazon of around €250 million. This is illegal under EU State aid rules because it allowed Amazon to pay (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice rules the prohibition on selling at a loss laid down by Spanish legislation relating to retail commerce contrary to EU law (Europamur Alimentación)
Broseta (Madrid)
In the context of a preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) concluded, through judgement of 19 October 2017 (Case C-295/16, Europamur Alimentación, S.A.), that the prohibition on selling at a loss (or sale at a loss) stated in Article 14 of Law 7/1996, regulating retail commerce (...)

The UK High Court renders a judgment significantly restricting the temporal scope of the claims in four air cargo cartel damages actions (Emerald Supplies)
Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
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Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
On 4 October 2017, the High Court gave a judgment on a preliminary issue significantly restricting the temporal scope of the claimants’ claims in four air cargo cartel damages actions. This judgment is the last in a series of adverse judgments for the claimants in these proceedings. Background (...)

Regulatory

The German Competition Authority publishes a paper on ’Big Data and Competition’ as Big Data and digital markets remain in the focus of EU competition authorities
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
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Hogan Lovells (Munich)
I. Introduction On 6 October, the German Federal Cartel Office (’FCO’) launched its new series of papers on ’Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy’. The first paper deals with ’Big Data and Competition’. The same day, a ’real-life example’ of competition enforcement in Big Data (...)

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