December 2000

Anticompetitive practices

The EU Commission prepares a report on the evaluation of the block exemption regulation relating to motor vehicle distribution
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Monitoring of Regulation (EC) n° 1475/95 concerning the distribution of motor vehicles"* The block exemption Regulation relating to motor vehicle distribution entered into force on July 1, 1995 and will expire on September 30, 2002. It allows selective and exclusive distribution and servicing (...)

The EU Commission fines fifth largest manufacturer of construction and earthmoving machines for its restrictive distribution agreements in several Member States (JCB Service)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
Commission fines JCB Service for its restrictive distribution agreements in several Member States* On 21 December 2000, the Commission adopted a decision finding that JCB Service, the UK-based parent company of the JC Bamford Group, infringes Article 81 of the EC Treaty and imposed on it a (...)

The EU Commission adopts a decision on the provision in Italy of new postal services offering added value elements, in particular, a guarantee that items created electronically arrive at a predetermined date or time
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
Commission adopts decision based on Article 86(3) on the provision of new postal services in Italy * The European Commission has today adopted a decision on the provision in Italy of new postal services offering added value elements, in particular a guarantee that items created (...)

The EU Court of Justice rules that the agreement for the distribution of petrol and other motor fuels in Finland does not significantly have restrictive cumulative effects on an oil company’s network (Neste Markkinointi / Yötuuli Ky)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case C-214/99 Neste Markkinointi Oy v Yötuuli Ky and Others (Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Tampereen Käräjäoikeus)* The prohibition laid down by Article 85(1) of the Treaty (now Article 81(1) EC) does not apply to an exclusive purchasing agreement entered into by a motor-fuels (...)

The EU Commission approves a liner shipping consortium (Europe to Caribbean Consortium)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority (CMA) (London)
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European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission clears two liner shipping consortia"* In October and December 2000 the Commission received two notifications of agreements envisaging the formation of consortia of liner shipping companies in the sense of Regulation 823/2000. The former consists of several such companies wanting (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU Court of Justice declares that an entrepreneur managing airports in Paris abused its dominance by applying discriminatory rates of charges for the use of the airport infrastructure to a company rendering catering services on behalf of airlines (Aéroports de Paris)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case T-128/98 Aéroports de Paris v Commission of the European Communities* 1. Regulation No 3975/87 laying down the procedure for the application of the rules on competition to undertakings in the air transport sector, which is specific in nature, applies only to activities directly relating (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an inquiry in the telephony sector and imposes interim measures (France Télécom)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Conseil de la concurrence launches an inquiry concerning the France Télécom’s “Ligne France” tariff offer, and issues interim measures* In a decision dated 5th December 2000, following a referral by the Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (Telecommunications Regulation Authority), the (...)

Mergers

The Spanish Council of Ministers overturns a decision of the Spanish Competition Authority, and allows a merger in the beer market subject to remedies (Mahou / San Miguel)
RBB Economics (Madrid)
The operation The operation consisted of the acquisition by Mahou of 100% of the shares of Enterprise Resource Planning, the mother company of San Miguel. Mahou and San Miguel were two of the main beer manufacturers in the Spanish market (combined market share of about 35%). The Spanish (...)

The EU Commission adopts a notice on remedies acceptable to solve competition problems raised by mergers and acquisitions
European External Action Service (Brussels)
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Financial Conduct Authority (London)
"Merger Control: main developments between 1st September 2000 and 31st December 2000"* On 21st December 2000 the European Commission adopted a Notice on remedies acceptable to solve competition problems raised by mergers and acquisitions. The Notice is designed to provide the business and (...)

The Dutch NCA cleared a merger in the sector of alcohol subject to divestment (Rémy Cointreau - Bols)
Booking.com
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Bahl & Co (Amsterdam)
The operation Rémy Cointreau proposed acquiring the whole of Bols’ issued share capital (para. 6). The market(s) The NMa assessed the effects of the merger in relation to the markets for (i) wine, (ii) rum, (iii) wodka, (iv) whiskey and (v) brandy and cognac (para. 65, 66, 67, 68 and 75-77). (...)

The EU Commission approves, subject to remedies, a merger in the industrial hydraulic pumps sector (Bosch / Rexroth)
European External Action Service (Brussels)
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Financial Conduct Authority (London)
"Merger Control: main developments between 1st September 2000 and 31st December 2000"* The transaction is part of a broader plan by Mannesmann to offload its non-telecommunications activities. The Commission’s investigation found that the combined firms would have a dominant position on the (...)

The French Minister of Economy clears a merger in the the market for electricity supply subject to remedies, including divestiture (Vivendi Environnement / EDF / Dalkia)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The operation The Minister clears the acquisition of joint control by EDF and Vivendi Environement of certain Dalkia’ subsidiaries. The market(s) Electricity supply, cogeneration, facilities management. Remedy 1 Given the monopolistic position of EDF in the market for the supply of (...)

The EU Commission clears a joint venture combining the nuclear activities of French and German companies (Framatome / Siemens)
European External Action Service (Brussels)
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Financial Conduct Authority (London)
"Merger Control: main developments between 1st September 2000 and 31st December 2000"* On 6th December 2000, the European Commission cleared a joint venture which combines the nuclear activities of Framatome SA of France with those of Siemens AG of Germany. The joint venture, as initially (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority clears a merger in the mobile and wired telecommunications sector subject to a non-discrimination obligation (Westel 900 / Magyar Távközlési)
The operation The HCO authorized the acquisition of control of Matáv over the Westel and Westel 900 mobile service operators. Matáv mainly operates in the wired telecommunication sector but through its ownership in the Westel 450 and Westel 900 mobile service operators it is an important player (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission takes a negative final decision on the Swedish reduced social contributions scheme (Modified reduced social contributions aid scheme)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Main developments between 1st October and 31st December 2000"* On 21 December 2000, the Commission took a negative final decision on the Swedish Reduced social contributions scheme. Under the aid scheme in question, the social security contributions payable for each person employed in an (...)

The French Administrative Court of Lille rules that taxpayers are entitled to refuse the payment of taxes due to failure to notify the carcass disposal scheme to the EU Commission as required by State aid provisions (Lianoudis)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
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European Commission (Brussels)
Brief description of the facts and legal issues The claimant contested the legality of the tax. Summary of the Court’s findings The Administrative Court of Lille stated that stockbreeders were the quasi-exclusive beneficiaries of the services financed by the tax. The Lille Court considered (...)

The EU Commission decides not to object to an infrastructure development scheme notified by the UK authorities under which the State acting through a real estate company will buy land and develop it for commercial use and then sell or lease it at market price (Welsh Development Agency)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
Main developments between 1st October and 31st December 2000* On 6 December 2000 the Commission decided not to object to an infrastructure development scheme, under which the State, acting through the Welsh Development Agency, will buy land, develop it for commercial use and then sell or lease (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice states that Community Courts have exclusive competence to decide the lawfulness of the Commission’s acts (Masterfoods / HB Ice Cream)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case C-344/98 Masterfoods Ltd v HB Ice Cream Ltd and HB Ice Cream Ltd v Masterfoods Ltd, trading as ’Mars keland’* Where a national court is ruling on an agreement or practice the compatibility of which with Articles 85(1) and 86 of the Treaty (now Articles 81(1) EC and 82 EC) is already the (...)

The EU Court of Justice states that an application for interim measures which seeks to obtain authorisation to provide a guarantee for an amount lower than that required by the Commission as a condition for not recovering a fine immediately can be granted only in exceptional circumstances (FEG)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case T-5/OOR Nederlandse Federatieve Vereniging voor de Groothandel op Elektrotechnisch Gebied v Commission of the European Communities* 1. Since interim proceedings are incidental to the main proceedings, a party which has already been given leave to intervene in support of a defendant (...)

The European Court of First Instance introduces an expedited (’fast-track’) procedure for certain cases, including in particular merger cases
Herbert Smith Freehills (Brussels)
"Judicial review and merger control: The CFI’s expedited procedure"* 1. Introduction The recent introduction by the Court of First Instance (CFI) of an expedited (’fast-track’) procedure for certain cases, including in particular merger cases, has been greeted positively by the business and (...)

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