February 2019

General antitrust

The US FTC announces the creation of a new task force to scrutinize competition in the tech industry
Clifford Chance (Washington D.C.)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On February 26, 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) Bureau of Competition—the arm through which the FTC enforces US federal antitrust laws—announced the (...)

Anticompetitive practices

The Indian Competition Authority finds no violation in a cinema chain exclusively selling one beverage producer’s products (Inox / Coca-Cola)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI holds no violation in exclusive selling beverages of Coca-Cola by INOX Theatres at higher rates than the retail price* The Competition Commission of India (“CCI/ Commission”) by way of order dated 28.02.2019 exonerated INOX Leisure Ltd (“INOX”) and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Ltd (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority publishes new horizontal guidelines on cooperation between competitors and new vertical guidelines on agreements between suppliers and customers
Bird & Bird (The Hague)
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Bird & Bird (Amsterdam)
On 26 February 2019, the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets ("ACM") published both new (horizontal) guidelines on cooperation between competitors (Leidraad: samenwerking tussen concurrenten "Horizontal restraints guidelines") and (vertical) guidelines on agreements between suppliers (...)

The French Competition Authority closes the case opened at its own initiative regarding practices implemented in the temporary work sector
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Temporary work sector*The Autorité closes the case opened at its own initiative regarding practices implemented in the temporary work sector Following dawn raids, the Autorité de la concurrence started proceedings ex officio in May 2015 relating to a possible set of practices that was alleged (...)

The UK Financial Conduct Authority fines companies sharing strategic information on a bilateral basis during an initial public offering (Hargreave / Newton / RAMAM)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On 21 February, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) found that Hargreave Hale Ltd (“Hargreave Hale”), Newton Investment Management Limited (“Newton”), and (...)

The UK FCA issues its first formal decision under its competition law enforcement powers by finning three asset management firms in an IPO context (Hargreave / Newton / RAMAM)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
On 21 February 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a decision finding that three asset management firms breached competition law in the context of an initial public offering (IPO). This marks the FCA’s first formal decision under its competition law enforcement powers, which it (...)

The UK Financial Conduct Authority makes the first use of its enforcement powers under competition law and in a landmark decision fines 3 asset managers for exchanging "strategic" information (Hargreave / Newton / RAMAM)
White & Case (London)
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White & Case (Brussels)
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Stephenson Harwood
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. Summary In a landmark decision on 21 February 2019 (the “Decision”), marking the first use of its enforcement powers under the Competition Act 1998 (“CA 1998”), (...)

The UK FCA finds that three asset management firms breached competition law in the context of an initial public offering in the financial market through bilateral exchanges of confidential, strategic information regarding their bidding intentions (Hargreave / RAMAM / Newton)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (London)
On 21 February 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a decision finding that three asset management firms breached competition law in the context of an initial public offering (IPO). This marks the FCA’s first formal decision under its competition law enforcement powers, which it (...)

The UK FCA issues its first antitrust decision and fines several companies for sharing strategic information during an initial public offering (Hargreave / Newton / RAMAM)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued its first antitrust decision since obtaining competition law powers four years ago. The decision is a controversial one. It sets the FCA up as a strict enforcer on the type of information that competing investors can share when making (...)

The Italian Competition Authority fines two low cost airlines companies for increasing the price of their tickets in a non-transparent manner (Ryanair / Wizz Air)
Bird & Bird (Rome)
On 21 February 2019, the Italian Competition Authority ("AGCM") concluded two proceedings - launched in September and October 2018 - against the low cost airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air,. The two investigations showed that, from 1 November 2018 onwards, passengers of the two companies were only (...)

The EU Commission begins its evaluation of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation by publishing a roadmap and announcing a public consultation
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (“MVBER”), which (together with the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption) exempts under Article 101(3) various vertical agreements in the automotive sector, will expire on 31 May 2023. In preparation for this, the European Commission has formally (...)

The Polish Supreme Court fines two wholesale distributors for setting minimum resale prices of branded watches (Jubiler / Anyro)
Bird & Bird (Warsaw)
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Bird & Bird (Warsaw)
Earlier this year the Polish Supreme Court rendered two judgments, in which it addressed the way in which the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (’’UOKiK’’) handles cases concerning anti-competitive vertical agreements. The judgments confirmed UOKiK’s decision, in which PHU (...)

The UK Court of Appeal upholds the UK Competition Authority’s fining and confirms that a single exchange of pricing information is sufficient for a "by object" infringement (Balmoral)
Baker Botts (Brussels)
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Baker Botts (Brussels)
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Baker Botts (London)
ONE-TIME INFORMATION EXCHANGE SUFFICIENT – A RECENT REMINDER IN THE UK* The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) recently welcomed the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of a challenge brought against a decision of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) by Balmoral, a supplier of steel water (...)

The Danish district court of Næstved fines a hair-product wholesaler for resale price maintenance (Icon Hairspa)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 15 February 2019, the Danish court of Næstved imposed a fine of DK 1,000,000 (approximately € 135,000) on hair-product wholesaler Icon Hairspa for imposing minimum retail prices for Kevin Murphy-branded products on its dealers. An Icon Hairspa manager was also fined DK 100,000 for (...)

The French Competition Authority carries out unannounced inspections in the sector of engineering, maintenance, decommissioning and waste treatment services for nuclear installations
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Dawn raids* The General Rapporteur of the Autorité de la concurrence indicates that unannounced inspections have been carried out in the sector of engineering, maintenance, decommissioning and waste treatment services for nuclear installations Following authorisation from the liberty and (...)

The German Competition Authority fines eight providers of magazine lending services for concluding customer allocation agreements (Daheim / Brabandt / Dörsch / Krumbeck / Medien- Palette / Die Hanse / Hettling ́s LeseZirkel / Hettling)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Eight providers of magazine lending services fined on account of unlawful customer allocation agreements* The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines amounting to approx. three million euros on eight magazine lending service providers. The companies are accused of having concluded illegal customer (...)

The Australian Federal Court imposes a fines of $1,05m for for engaging in ‘gun jumping’ cartel conduct in a asset sale agreement in the clinical market (Cryosite / Cell Care)
Jones Day (Melbourne)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Sydney)
On 13 February 2019 the Federal Court ordered Cryosite Limited to pay $1.05 million in penalties for engaging in ‘gun jumping’ cartel conduct in its asset sale agreement with Cell Care Australia. The modest fine reflected the (relatively small) scale of the business concerned and their (...)

The Italian Competition Authority finds two anti-competitive agreements in the market for the provision of fire prevention services (Wood Firefighting Services)
Giannino SI (Monserrato)
In the recent Wood Fire Service case, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has found two anti-competitive agreements put in place by several players in the market for the provision of wood fire prevention services. The first anti-competitive agreement took the shape of a bid rigging practice (...)

The Australian Federal Court imposes a fine of $1,05 million in a gun jumping case in the pharmaceutical case (Cryosite / Cell Care)
Bird & Bird (Sydney)
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Bird & Bird (Sydney)
In July 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) brought its first gun jumping cartel case against Cryosite Limited (“Cryosite”). Gun jumping occurs when parties to a merger or acquisition coordinate their activities prior to the completion of their transaction. This (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority closes several inquiries concerning restrictive practices in the travel sector and in the freight handlers in the Flemish ports
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Investigation and Prosecution Service of the Belgian Competition Authority has closed several inquiries concerning restrictive practices on the one hand the travel sector and on the other hand the freight handlers in the Flemish ports* In the course of 2006, the College of Competition (...)

The EU General Court awards damages to an envelope producer due to the EU Commission’s failure to include default interest when repaying an annulled cartel fine (Printeos)
Court of First Instance of Namur
On 12 February 2019, the EU General Court (“GC”) awarded € 184,592.95 in damages to envelopes producer Printeos in view of the European Commission’s failure to pay default interest when repaying a cartel fine which had previously been annulled by the GC. In 2014, following a settlement procedure, (...)

The Danish City Court of Hellirød fines competing demolition companies for bid coordination by exchanging prices (Nedrivning)
Bird & Bird (Copenhagen)
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Bird & Bird (Copenhagen)
On 8 February 2019, the City Court of Hillerød concluded that CMP Nedrivning ApS (a Danish demolition company) had violated section 6 of the Danish Competition Act (corresponding to Article 101 TFEU) by coordinating prices with competing demolition companies. The company was found to be part of (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority finds no-poaching clauses in a gym company’s franchising agreements to be against competition law (BFIT)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
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ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
This case summary includes an analysis of Turkish Competition Board’s (the “Board”) BFIT preliminary investigation decision (07.02.2019, 19-06/64-27) in which the Board evaluated non-compete and no-poaching obligations imposed by Bfit Sağlık ve Spor Yatırım ve Tic. A.Ş. (“BFIT”) to its franchisees. (...)

The Dutch Court of Appeal dismisses claimant’s appeal in follow-on cartel damages claim in relation to the elevators and escalators cartel (East West Debt)
Simmons & Simmons (Amsterdam)
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Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
Introduction In 2007, the EC imposed fines on several international elevators and escalators (hereafter: “lift”) companies for a violation of Article 81 of the EC Treaty (now Article 101 TFEU). Following the EC decision, follow-on claims have been launched in both Belgium and in the Netherlands. (...)

The German Competition Authority publishes a paper summarizing its sector inquiry into online price comparison websites
Court of First Instance of Namur
On 4 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published a fifth paper in its series “Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy”. The paper summarizes the sector inquiry into online comparison websites in the travel, energy, insurance, telecommunications and financial (...)

The EU Commission launches its public consultation on the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation which will expire in 2022
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
The European Commission (“Commission”) has initiated its evaluation of the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation (“VABER”), which will expire on 31 May 2022. The Commission’s evaluation will inform its decision on whether to allow the VABER to lapse, to prolong its duration or to revise it. (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority finds that an association restricted price competition by issuing and monitoring compliance with its fee regulation (LOSZ)
Bird & Bird (Budapest)
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Bird & Bird (Budapest)
The Hungarian Competition Authority (“GVH”) had found that the Hungarian association of home decorators (in Hungarian: Lakberendezők Országos Szövetsége, “LOSZ”) restricted price competition in the period between 1997 and 2016 by issuing, and monitoring compliance with, its Fee Regulation in the (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Danish Competition Authority issues a study on excessive pricing in pharmaceutical markets
Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (Copenhagen)
Excessive Pricing in Pharmaceutical Markets* Intervention against possible exploitative and excessive prices should always be considered carefully. However, the dynamics of pharmaceutical markets makes it particularly relevant for competition authorities to prioritise cases on unfair (...)

The German Competition Authority announces that two sports committee committed to enlarge the advertising opportunities for German athletes during the Olympic Games (IOC / DOSB)
Bird & Bird (Düsseldorf)
On 27 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) issued a press release announcing that the German Olympic Sports Confederation (“DOSB”) and the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) committed to enlarge the advertising opportunities for German athletes during the Olympic Games. This (...)

The Czech Competition Authority fines a food retailer for abuse of dominance consisting of payments without consideration (Rewe group)
Czech Competition Authority (Brno)
The retail chains of Rewe group abused the significant market power, the settlement procedure set their fine to czk 164 million* The Office for the Protection of Competition imposed a fine for abuse of significant market power in the amount of CZK 164 372 000 on the retail chains BILLA, spol. (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority refuses to impose an interim measure on a meteorological Institute accused of abuse of dominance in the market of meteorological data (Royal Meteorological Institute)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Competition College of the BCA has refused to impose an interim measure on the Royal Meteorological Institute as requested by The Great Circle* The Competition College of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has refused on 15 February 2019 to impose an interim measure on the Belgian (...)

The Austrian Competition Authority initiates investigation proceedings concerning discrimination against retailers on the internet (Amazon)
Austrian Competition Authority (Vienna)
After a first analysis, discussions with the European Commission (DG Competition) and the German Bundeskartellamt, the BWB has decided to initiate investigation proceedings concerning suspected infringements of Austrian and European Competition Law. The BWB will examine, whether Amazon abused (...)

The German Competition Authority prohibits a social network company for abusing its dominant position by combining its user data from different sources (Facebook)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt / Digital Economy Bundeskartellamt prohibits Facebook from combining user data from different sources* Bonn, 7 February 2019: The Bundeskartellamt has imposed on Facebook far-reaching restrictions in the processing of user data. According to Facebook’s terms and conditions (...)

The German Competition Authority orders to a social network company to stop collecting and matching data of its users without explicit consent as it constitutes an abuse of dominance (Facebook)
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
Bundeskartellamt hits „don’t like“-button on Facebook* On February 7, 2019, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) issued its long-awaited decision in the Facebook case, see press release and background paper in English here. It qualifies Facebook’s current practice of collecting and matching data (...)

The German Competition Authority holds that matching the data collected by a social network company constitutes an antitrust violation (Facebook)
International Center for Law & Economics (Portland)
Doing double damage: The German competition authority’s Facebook decision manages to undermine both antitrust and data protection law* The German Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office or FCO) this week reached a decision in its nearly 3-year-old Facebook investigation. The decision appears to (...)

The German Competition Authority finds the merging of user data from multiple sources to be both anti-competitive and in breach of the GDPR (Facebook)
Simmons & Simmons (London)
In one of the first decisions to consider data protection and competition issues side by side, the German competition regulator (the Bundeskartellamt) last week found that Facebook had both abused its market power in Germany and breached EU data protection laws in the way in which it collects (...)

The German Competition Authority finds an online platform of social network to be dominant in the market for social networks and prohibits the company from combining user data from different sources (Facebook)
Bird & Bird (Düsseldorf)
The FCO issued a decision in its Facebook proceeding on 7th February 2019 which concerns the interface between competition law and data protection law. Facebook’s terms and conditions require the user to consent to Facebook’s unrestricted collection of user data and assignment of non-Facebook (...)

The German Competition Authority rules that a social network abused its dominant position by improperly combining user data that it collected (Facebook)
Hausfeld (Berlin)
On February 6th, the Bundeskartellamt (German Federal Cartel Office - “FCO”) ruled that Facebook abused its dominance by improperly combining user data that it collected. The FCO imposed far-reaching restrictions on Facebook’s processing of user data in the future, including a requirement that (...)

The German Competition Authority finds that the data gathering practices of a social network are an abuse of its dominant position, and orders amendments in its data processing policy (Facebook)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) concluded administrative proceedings concerning the data gathering practices of Facebook Inc., Facebook Ireland and Facebook Germany (together “Facebook”). The FCO found that Facebook abused its dominant position by making the private use (...)

The US DoJ files a statement asking the Court to order additional briefing and to hold a hearing on a remedy if it finds a semiconductor company liable for anticompetitive abuses in connection with its patent licensing program (Qualcomm)
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Washington)
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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Washington)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. In a highly unusual move, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) recently  led a statement of interest in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority finds that a distributor and aftersales service provider of cancer diagnosis and treatment devices abused its dominant position through excessive pricing and refusal to supply (Radontek Medikal / Duzey)
ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
On 1 February 2019, Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) published its reasoned decision regarding the full-fledged investigation conducted against Radontek Medikal İthalat İhracat San. ve Tic. Ltd. Şti. (“Radontek Medikal”) upon a complaint submitted to the TCA by Düzey Tıbbi Sistemler Bilgisayar ve (...)

Mergers

The UK Competition Authority issues first order reversing pre-closing integration (Smartbox / Tobii)
Jones Day (London)
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Jones Day (London)
The UK Competition & Markets Authority ("CMA") issued its first order requiring parties to a completed merger to reverse pre-closing integration that the CMA believes prejudiced its ability to assess the deal’s impact on competition in the UK. This case is a reminder that parties who (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the markets of wine and spirits (Marie Brizard / COFEPP)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Wine and spirits* The Autorité de la concurrence clears - subject to conditions - the acquisition of the group Marie Brizard On 3 January 2019, the Compagnie Financière Européenne de Prises de Participation (“Cofepp”) notified the Autorité de la concurrence its intention to acquire sole control of (...)

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit holds that the US DoJ failed to show that the District Court erred in denying the government’s request for a permanent injunction in blocking a merger (AT&T / Time Warner)
Paul Weiss (New York)
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Paul Weiss (Washington)
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Paul Weiss (Washington)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On February 26, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to show that (...)

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. finds that the government has not proved that a merger between video distribution companies would substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly (AT&T / Time Warner)
Wolters Kluwer (Riverwoods)
Justice Department Unable to Overturn Decision Allowing AT&T Merger with Time Warner* The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. last week concluded that the government failed to prove that the combination of AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc. would violate Sec. 7 of the Clayton Act. A (...)

The US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholds a district Court decision finding a merger in the video distribution sector unlikely to harm competition (AT&T / Time Warner)
McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
“[T]here is no need to opine on the proper legal standards for evaluating vertical mergers because, on appeal, neither party challenges the legal standards the district court applied.” —U.S. Circuit Judge Judith W. Rogers, United States v. AT&T Inc. Antitrust practitioners and business (...)

The Polish Competition Authority conditionally approves a merger between liquid carbon dioxide producers to structural and behavioural remedies (Air Products and Chemicals / ACP Europe / Eurocylinder)
Taylor Wessing (Warsaw)
On 25 February 2019, the acquisition of ACP Europe S.A. and Eurocylinder NV (subsidiaries of L’Acide Carbonique Pur) by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (“APC”) was conditionally approved by the Polish Competition Authority (“PCA”) (decision DKK-51/2019). The proposed foreign-to-foreign transaction (...)

The Polish Competition Authority clears a merger in the chemical sector imposing a combination of structural and behavioural remedies (Air Products and Chemicals / ACP Europe / Eurocylinder)
Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak (Warsaw)
On February 25, 2019 the President of the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (“OCCP”) issued a conditional decision (“Decision”) clearing the concentration consisting in the acquisition by Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (“Air Products”) of ACP Europe S.A. and Eurocylinder NV (...)

The EU Commission alleges a telecommunication company has breached its remedies following the clearance of its merger (Telefonica Deutschland)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission alleges Telefónica breached commitments given to secure clearance of E-Plus acquisition* The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Telefónica Deutschland alleging the company breached commitments it offered to secure the Commission’s approval under the EU (...)

The EU Commission issues first ever statement of objections for breaching a merger commitment in the telecommunication sector (Telefónica Deutschland)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 22 February 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) sent a Statement of Objections to Telefónica Deutschland alleging that it breached a commitment offered in order to secure the Commission’s approval of its acquisition of E-Plus (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2014, No. 7). In (...)

The EU Commission sends statement of objections to a company for alleged infringement of merger commitments (Telefónica Deutschland)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 22 February 2019, the Commission addressed an SoO to Telefónica Deutschland (“Telefónica”) detailing its concerns that the company may have breached one of the commitments linked to the Commission’s clearance of its acquisition of E-Plus in 2014. In particular, back then, Telefónica committed to (...)

The Indian Competition Authority partially approves acquisition of a logistics company’s shares by a financial investment company (SVF Doorbell / Delhivery Private)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
CCI partly approves acquisition of shareholding in Delhivery Private Ltd by SVF Doorbell* By way of order dated 21.02.2019, the Commission has approved the acquisition of 22.44% shares, as compulsory convertible preference shares, of the total share capital of Delhivery Private Ltd (“DPL”) by (...)

The UK Competition Authority issues provisional findings in the potential merger between online retailers of delivered goods (Sainsbury / Asda)
Bird & Bird (London)
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Bird & Bird (London)
Sainsbury’s and Asda are the second and third largest grocery retailers in the UK respectively, and represent two of the four largest online retailers of delivered goods in the UK. Their networks include supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations. Both parties also retail (...)

The US FTC announces the annual update of thresholds for premerger notification filings
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (New York)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Washington DC)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (New York)
On February 15, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the revised thresholds for determining whether companies are required to notify federal antitrust authorities about a transaction under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (HSR Act). If a (...)

The US FTC announces that it will raise the Hart Scott Rodino Act jurisdictional and filing fee thresholds
Morgan Lewis (New York)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
Transactions closing in mid-March will be subject to increased HSR Act jurisdictional and filing fee thresholds. On February 15, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will raise the Hart­Scott­Rodino Act (HSR Act) jurisdictional and filing fee thresholds. Any transaction closing (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the aquaculture sector (Amerra and Mubadala / Andromeda / Nireus and Selonda)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of joint control of Andromeda, Nireus and Selonda by Amerra and Mubadala, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Andromeda, Nireus and Selonda, all active in (...)

The US FTC announces its revised jurisdictional thresholds for the HSR and Clayton act
Baker Botts (Washington)
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Baker Botts (Washington)
On February 15, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission announced new jurisdictional thresholds for the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (“HSR Act”) and Section 8 of the Clayton Act (“Corporate Interlock Statute”). The FTC is required to adjust the thresholds annually, based on (...)

The US FTC publishes a notice revising the pre-merger notification thresholds under the HSR Act
Greenberg Traurig (Washington)
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Greenberg Traurig (New York)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On Feb. 15 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a notice to revise the premerger notification thresholds for mergers and acquisitions under the (...)

The Indian Competition Authority approves the acquisition of an energy company by investment firms with minor common shareholdings in competing firms (Global Power Solutions / Brookfield Assets Management / Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec)
Vaish Associates Advocates (New Delhi)
Commission approves acquisition of Global Power Solutions Business of Johnson Control by Brookfield* CCI, by way of order dated 14.02.2019, has approved the acquisition of the Global Power Solutions business(“GPS”) of Johnson Controls International plc (“JCI”) by Brookfield Assets Management Inc. (...)

The Australian Federal Court orders an undertaking to pay $1.05M for cartel conduct relating to its asset sale agreement (Cryosite / ACCC)
Kirkland & Ellis (London)
GUN-JUMPING IN VOLUNTARY MERGER REGIMES: THE RISKS KEEPING GLOBAL TRANSACTIONS IN SUSPENSE* Much has been written of the heightened risk of gun-jumping enforcement by competition regulators overseeing mandatory suspensory merger regimes. This article will examine why merger parties and their (...)

The EU Commission lifts commitments adopted in a merger case based on exceptional circumstances review (Air France / KLM)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
In a recently published decision of 6 February 2019, the European Commission waived a commitment imposed during its merger review of Air France’s acquisition of KLM in 2004. By way of background, during the 2004 review of its acquisition of KLM, Air France offered commitments to address (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal upholds the Competition Authority’s first infringement decision for breach of an interim order in a merger investigation (Electro Rent)
Herbert Smith Freehills (London)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (London)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Brussels)
On 11 February 2019 the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the CMA’s first infringement decision for breach of an interim order imposed on a completed merger under investigation. Electro Rent had served a break notice on the lease of its UK premises without first seeking the CMA’s consent (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the flexible packaging for medical use and for food products sectors (Amcor / Bemis)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves merger between Amcor and Bemis, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the merger between Amcor and Bemis. Both companies manufacture flexible packaging products worldwide. The approval is conditional on the (...)

The French Competition Authority re-examines and eases merger remedies made by a leading pay TV provider (Canal+ International)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Pay TV in French overseas departments and regions* The Autorité de la concurrence has re-examined the commitments made by Canal+ International as part of the take-over of Mediaserv (now Canal+ Telecom) in 2014. Certain obligations have been maintained to preserve the competitive dynamic. (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority clears a merger in the entertainment industry subject to structural remedies (Disney / Fox)
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
Clarification on Disney/Fox transaction* Mexico City, February 6, 2019.- In August 2018, the Walt Disney Company (Disney) and Twenty-First Century Fox (Fox) notified, both the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE or Commission) and the Federal Institute for Telecommunications (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the market for railway signalling and very high-speed trains (Siemens / Alstom)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 6 February 2019, the Commission adopted a prohibition decision against Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom, which aimed at combining the parties transport equipment and service activities. This decision was based on the Commission’s finding that the transaction at issue would (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the market of railway signalling systems and very high-speed trains (Siemens / Alstom)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission prohibits Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom* The European Commission has prohibited Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom under the EU Merger Regulation. The merger would have harmed competition in markets for railway signalling systems and very high-speed trains. The (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the market for railway signalling and very high-speed trains (Siemens / Alstom)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 February 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) prohibited Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom under the EU Merger Regulation. The deal would have combined Siemens’ and Alstom’s transport equipment and service activities in a new company fully controlled by Siemens. According to the (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the rolled copper products market (Wieland / Aurubis / Schwermetall)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission prohibits Wieland’s proposed acquisition of Aurubis Rolled Products and Schwermetall* The European Commission has prohibited, under the EU Merger Regulation, Wieland’s proposed acquisition of Aurubis Rolled Products and Aurubis’ stake in Schwermetall. It had serious concerns (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger between producers of rolled copper products (Wieland / Aurubis / Schwermetall)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 February 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) prohibited Wieland’s proposed acquisition of Aurubis. Both companies are producers of rolled copper products, a key input for many industries, including for parts used in electric cars, trains and electronic devices. The Commission’s (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the railway sector and reaffirms that industrial policy objectives have no role to play when it comes to applying the EU merger control rules (Siemens / Alstom)
McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Paris)
BIGGER IS BETTER . . . OR MAYBE NOT: THE SIEMENS/ALSTOM RAILWAY ME* The European Commission recently reaffirmed that industrial policy objectives have no role to play when it comes to applying the EU merger control rules. Despite unusually intense industrial and political pressure to get the (...)

The Irish Competition Authority clears a merger subject to remedies in the waste sector (Panda / Knockharley Landfill)
Irish Competition Authority (Dublin)
CCPC requires commitments from Panda to secure approval for acquisition of Knockharley Landfill* The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared, subject to binding commitments, the proposed acquisition of Knockharley Landfill Limited (Knockharley), by Pandagreen Limited (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a merger in the railway sector (Siemens / Alstom)
Bird & Bird (Paris)
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Bird & Bird (Paris)
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Bird & Bird (Düsseldorf)
Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission (“EC”) decided on 6 February 2019 to prohibit Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom. According to the EC the combining of Siemens’ and Alstom’s transport equipment and services in a new company fully controlled by Siemens would have (...)

The Canadian Competition Bureau announces its 2019 Pre-merger notification thresholds
Commonwealth Secretariat (London)
Canada’s Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”), which assists the Commissioner of Competition in the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act (the “Act”), announced on 31 January 2019 that the 2019 pre-merger notification threshold for acquiring an undertaking will be $96 million (CAN), up (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation to assess whether Danish and Swedish public support for a fixed rail-road link is in line with EU State aid rules (Øresund)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into public financing of Øresund fixed rail-road link* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Danish and Swedish public support for the Øresund fixed rail-road link is in line with EU State aid rules. This (...)

The EU Court of Justice and the General Court render two judgments on State aid showing how the Courts approach a judicial review of complex economic assessments when the burden of proof is on the Commission (Frucona Kosice / Fútbol Club Barcelona)
Garrigues (Brussels)
EU Judicial Review: Major Antitrust Implications of Recent State Aid Cases* We competition lawyers often wrongly approach our discipline in isolation from the wider context in which it is applied. This is also true when it comes to judicial review. We tend to forget that antitrust is only a (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s State aid decision concerning a Spanish tax regime (Athletic Club)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
In 2016, the Commission adopted a decision declaring that four Spanish professional football clubs (i.e., Fútbol Club Barcelona, Club Atlético Osasuna, Athletic Club and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol) had received incompatible state aid in the form of corporate tax privileges. As a consequence, Spain (...)

The EU Commission approves under EU State aid rules support for four floating demonstration offshore wind farms in France
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves support for four floating demonstration offshore wind farms in France* The European Commission has found four French projects promoting electricity generation from renewable wind energy sources to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measures will further (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission decision which classified Belgium’s "excess profit" tax scheme as State aid (Magnetrol International)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 February 2019, the General Court (“GC”) issued a judgment annulling the decision of the European Commission (the “Commission”) concerning the Belgian “excess profit” tax rulings (Joined Cases T-131/16 and T-263/16, Belgium and Magnetrol International v. Commission). Under Belgian law, Belgian (...)

The EU General Court overturns the Commission’s finding that Belgium granted unlawful State aid through advance tax rulings (Magnetrol International)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Many Tax Rulings Do Not Make a Single Aid Scheme* The autonomy that Member States enjoy in the field of direct taxation must be exercised in compliance with EU State aid law. A State aid measure is considered to be a “scheme” when (a) no further implementing acts are necessary, (b) the granting (...)

The EU General Court points out the methodological weakness of the Commission analysis in a State aid case (Magnetrol International)
Arendt & Medernach (Luxembourg)
Apart from the first plea alleging infringement of the exclusive competence of Member States in the field of direct taxation, which would preclude the Commission’s control of State aid, and which was dismissed by the General Court (“GC”), the object of the judgment delivered was technical. It (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s State aid decision on Belgian express profit rulings (Magnetrol International)
Bird & Bird (Brussels)
On 14 February 2019, the EU General Court annulled the European Commission’s ("EC") State aid decision of 11 January 2016 on Belgian excess profit rulings ("EPR"). Unlike most State tax aid cases, the Belgian EPR case is not about individual aid but about an aid scheme as defined in Article (...)

The EU General Court delivers its first judgment on State aid through tax rulings by annulling the Commission’s decision on the Belgian excess profit ruling system (Magnetrol International)
Clifford Chance (Brussels)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. On 14 February 2019, the EU General Court annulled the European Commission’s State aid decision relating to the Belgian excess profit ruling system. The General (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s State aid decision regarding excess Belgium profits tax ruling system (Magnetrol International)
Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
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Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
In a Decision of 11 January 2016, the European Commission declared the Belgian excess profit scheme, pursuant to which Belgium granted advance tax rulings authorising Belgian entities which were part of multinational groups to exempt part of their profits from corporate income taxation, (...)

The EU General Court annuls a Commission decision that the Belgian excess profit tax exemption constitutes State aid (Magnetrol International)
University of Oxford
THE BELGIAN EXCESS PROFITS CASE – A STATE AID ANTICLIMAX* Lawyers across Europe holding their breath while awaiting the General Court’s ruling on the Belgian Excess Profits case were doubtlessly disappointed. On Valentine’s Day, the General Court reminded the European Commission that “tough love” (...)

The EU Commission launches two public consultations on the revision of the Emissions Trading Scheme State aid Guidelines
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 13 February 2019, the European Commission launched two public consultations on the revision of the Guidelines on certain State aid measures in the context of the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme post-2012, as amended. The Guidelines date from 2012 and will expire on 31 (...)

The EU Commission launches a public consultation on its Draft Notice on the recovery of unlawful and incompatible State aid
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 4 February 2019, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a Draft Notice on the recovery of unlawful and incompatible State aid. The Draft Notice is intended to replace the 2007 recovery notice, reflecting changes in the Commission’s practice and case law developments since (...)

Procedures

The Spanish Supreme Court decides on the interpretation of random discovery of evidence in dawn raids cases (Unión de Recuperación)
Callol, Coca & Asociados (Madrid)
The Supreme Court has upheld the appeal lodged by UdER (Unión de Recuperación) against the Judgment of the High Court of 15 December 2017 (appeal number 15/2015), declaring the NMCC’s Decision of 6 November 2014, Recogida de Papel, file S/0430/12 (Decision) null and void. In the said Decision, (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court rejects applicability of ‘fortuitous discovery’ doctrine when an inspection order is excessively vague (Unión de Empresas de Recuperación)
Cuatrecasas
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Cuatrecasas (Madrid)
On February 26, 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled on the Unión de Empresas de Recuperación (“UDER”) appeal against the National High Court’s judgment, which had confirmed a 2014 decision of the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (Spanish Competition Commission, “CNMC”) fining 13 (...)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court dismisses a complaint only based on past conduct against a pharmaceutical company (Shire Viropharma)
Dechert (Philadelphia)
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Dechert (Philadelphia)
On February 25, 2019, the Third Circuit held that the Federal Trade Commission cannot bring litigation in federal court based on past conduct, absent factual allegations demonstrating that a defendant “is violating or is about to violate” the laws enforced by the FTC. In doing so, the court (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority fines a fertiliser supplier for hindering an on-site inspection (Ege Gübre Sanayii)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
On May 3rd, 2019 the Turkish Competition Board (“Board”) published its reasoned decision dated February 7th, 2019 and numbered 19-06/51-18 with respect to the hindering of the on-site inspection conducted in Ege Gübre Sanayii A.Ş. (“Ege Gübre”). The decision concerns the evaluation on whether Ege (...)

The Czech Competition Authority launches a public consultation and calls for all interested parties, in particular competitors, lawyers and academics, to provide their views and opinions on the transposition of the ECN+ directive
Bird & Bird (Prague)
At the beginning of this year, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers issued Directive (EU) 2019/1 to "empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market" (the "ECN+ Directive"). The (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority publishes a communication on dawn raids
Bird & Bird (Budapest)
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Bird & Bird (Budapest)
Dawn Raid Communication In early 2019, the GVH issued a communications on dawn raids, detailing the process, the regulatory background and the rights and obligations of the GVH and the undertakings subject to such dawn raid. The Dawn Raid Communication summarized the GVH’s practice in dawn (...)

Regulatory

The U.S. FTC announces the launch of a new Technology Task Force to investigate anticompetitive conduct, review past transactions, and contribute to pending merger reviews
McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
THE LATEST: FTC’s New “Technology Task Force” Has Broad Mandate Including Review of Consummated Transactions* The US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition announced the launch of a new Technology Task Force that will investigate anticompetitive conduct, review past transactions, (...)

The French Competition Authority takes into account the emergence of online video platforms in its opinion on the audiovisual sector
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Audiovisual sector* In the context of the reform of the audiovisual sector, the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education of the French National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) referred this matter to the Autorité de la concurrence, which today delivers its opinion. In the face of the digital (...)

The French Competition Authority publishes its opinion regarding the forthcoming reform of the audiovisual regulatory framework
Bird & Bird (Paris)
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Bird & Bird (Paris)
On 21 February 2019, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its opinion regarding the forthcoming reform of the audiovisual regulatory framework, at the request of the French National Assembly. The current framework imposes significant obligations on French TV operators, consisting (...)

The French and German governments publish a joint manifesto calling for a new European industrial policy with changes to merger control and State aid rules
Court of First Instance of Namur
On 19 February 2019, the French Minister of Economy, Mr Bruno Le Marie, and the German Minister of Economy, Mr Peter Altmaier, published a joint manifesto which calls for the development of a European industrial policy to ensure the global competitiveness of European manufacturing industries. (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority publishes its enforcement priorities for 2019
Bird & Bird (Brussels)
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Bird & Bird (Brussels)
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Bird & Bird (Brussels)
On 1 March 2019, the Belgian Competition Authority (“BCA”) published its annual enforcement priorities, which are largely similar to those of 2018: Telecommunications – the BCA notes that the increased reliance on bundled offers in the telecom retail markets has the effect of increasing consumer (...)

The Finnish Competition Authority issues a report on competition in data economy
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (Helsinki)
FCCA: Competition and consumer protection are fundamental to data economy* With the market for digital products and services is growing, the functionality of competition and consumer protection are important considerations. A report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), (...)

The South African Government publishes draft Regulations in relation to the South African Competition Amendment Act which seeks to clarify price discrimination prohibition and buyer power provisions
Nortons (Sandton)
SOUTH AFRICA: OVERVIEW OF THE PRICE DISCRIMINATION AND BUYER POWER DRAFT REGULATIONS* The South African Competition Amendment Act was signed into law by the President on 13 February 2019. Two of the contentious aspects which were raised during the drafting of the Amendment Bill related to the (...)

The UK Competition Authority publishes guidance for competition disqualification orders against directors
Bird & Bird (London)
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Bird & Bird (London)
In the event of a UK competition law infringement, the CMA can seek a Competition Disqualification Order ("CDO") for up to 15 years against (i) any director of company who has committed a breach of competition law and (ii) if the court considers that the individual’s conduct as a director makes (...)

The EU Commission conducts a public consultation evaluating the vertical block exemption regulation and the accompanying guidelines on vertical restraints
Bird & Bird (Brussels)
Between February and May 2019, the European Commission ("Commission") conducted a public consultation evaluating the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation ("VBER") and the accompanying Guidelines on Vertical Restraints ("VGL"). Stakeholders were invited to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, (...)

International

Spain: The Supreme Court states that its “incidental finding” doctrine is not applicable when the inspection order is too vague (S. Solis, Hijos de Demetrio Fernández, Unión de Empresas de Recuperación)
Martinez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann (Madrid)
The Spanish Supreme Court has annulled three paper waste cartel fines because the “incidental finding” doctrine was not applicable to the evidence that led to the initiation of proceedings and which was found in the inspections carried out in a different investigation. In November 2014 the (...)

Spain: The Commercial Court of Valencia grants damages in a follow-on claim based on the decision of the European Commission in the truck cartel case (Mr. Octavio / MAN España)
Martinez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann (Madrid)
In one of the first rulings in Spain awarding damages based on the European Commission Decision in the truck cartel case (Case AT.39824 — Trucks), a judgment of 20 February 2019 of a Commercial Court in Valencia (Juzgado de lo Mercantil nº 3 de Valencia) found in favor of the claimant, an (...)

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