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See version in english Ron STERN, General Electric: An in-house perspective on global competition law developments


Ron STERN, General Electric : An in-house perspective on global competition law developments

1. After Harvard law school, you clerked on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for Judge Harold Leventhal, and then for US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, before entering private practice. At the beginning of your legal career, what led you to specializing in antitrust ?

2. At the last annual meeting of the International Competition Network (“ICN”) at The Hague, the Chairman of the ICN and head of the Office of Fair Trading, John Fingleton, announced that the membership had grown to 117 competition agencies. How do global companies like GE view the increasing growth of competition agencies worldwide, especially the possibility of multiple agency reviews of any potential transaction ? What role has the ICN Recommended Practices for Merger Notification and Review Procedure played in streamlining multijurisdictional merger reviews and what is left to accomplish ?

3. Former FTC Chairman, William Kovacic, has described antitrust rules worldwide as having an “open-source quality” as many competition agencies are adopting variations of agency and competition law models conceived in the US and Europe. But that today, “measured by influence in sharing the design and content of competition policy globally, the EU is the world’s most influential system”. Is that your impression ?

4. The US and EU just celebrated 20 years of the US-EU bilateral competition cooperation agreement by issuing revised Best Practices in Cooperation in Merger Investigations. You have been involved in a broad range of international competition law matters for GE, not least of which was the GE-Honeywell merger, which was cleared in the US but blocked by the EC in 2001. In retrospect, what did the experience illustrate for you and what are your views on US-EU cooperation ? How do you think it could be improved ?

5. Arguably trans-Atlantic differences between the EU and US, perhaps including the GE-Honeywell merger experience, led to the founding of the ICN for which you are a non-governmental advisor. What is your view of the network, what useful work do you think it has done, and what areas would you like the ICN to focus on in future ? In particular, what do you think the roles of non-governmental advisors should be in future ?

6. Key global players are beginning to actively enforce antitrust laws : China’s competition laws are now about 4 years old, provisions of India’s competition law dealing with mergers went into effect in June last year, and Brazil, just revamped their competition law, moving to a pre-merger notification system. Do you believe these new antitrust regimes are in line with international standards and best practices ? How are you and GE meeting the standards and requirements these new antitrust regimes impose, especially in emerging economies around the globe ?

7. The UK is evaluating the possibility of consolidating the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading. Labeled as the “bonfire of the quangos”, the UK government justified its suggestions as a way to cut duplication in government functions. Recently, France merged its competition agencies into a single Autorite de la Concurrence and under Brazil’s new competition law, the former triangular institutional system is being merged into one agency, the Administrative Council for Economic Defence (“CADE”). What are your views on this trend towards streamlining agencies and their functions, and do you think similar logic may justify a merger of the antitrust responsibilities of the DOJ and FTC ?

8. Working together, the DOJ and FTC released the Horizontal Merger Guidelines in August 2010. In your comments on the draft Guidelines, you seemed critical of the uses of any form of presumptions, especially the possibility that “upward pricing pressure” or the UPP test may establish a presumption that particular transactions raise competitive concerns. Now that the final Guidelines have been around for more than a year, do you still have the same concerns ? Do you have any other concerns with the Guidelines’ implementation ?

9. You have previously expressed concerns about the “Essential Facilities Doctrine,” and have remarked that the Supreme Court should reconsider the doctrine. Is that still your view ? Do you think the doctrine is inappropriate regardless of the industry, including high-tech industries where network effects are profound ?

10. During the FTC/DOJ hearings on Section 2 of the Sherman Act, you advocated for clear rules and guidance for business. The DOJ issued then withdrew the resulting Section 2 report. When Christine Varney withdrew the report, she suggested that the reason for the withdrawal was a “shift in philosophy.” If changes in philosophy can lead to a completely new set of rules, how do you think business should navigate the waters of antitrust policy and compliance ?

11. On a personal level, how have you seen the nature of your practice change over time and what future challenges are you preparing to face ?

Interview réalisée par Hugh Hollman, Jones Day, Silicon Valley Office.

1991-Present Vice President (1997-present) & Senior Competition Counsel, General Electric Company, Washington, DC 1988-1990 Partner, Arnold & Porter, Washington, DC 1976-78, 1980-88 Associate (’76-’78,’80-’81), Partner (’81-’88), Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Washington, DC 1978-1980 Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC 1974-1976 Law Clerk to Justice Potter Stewart (’75-’76) ; Judge Harold Leventhal, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (’74-’75) 1974 J.D., Harvard Law School Ron Stern : An in-house perspective on global competition law developments 1. After Harvard law school, you clerked on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for Judge Harold Leventhal, and then for

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Hugh Hollman, Ronald A. Stern, Ron STERN, General Electric: An in-house perspective on global competition law developments, May 2012, Concurrences Review N° 2-2012, Art. N° 44490,

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