February 2021 - II

General antitrust

The Australian Competition Authority outlines its enforcement and compliance priorities for 2021 in the context of COVID-19 pandemic New Free
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC’s 2021 enforcement and compliance priorities* Sales practices in Australia’s domestic travel sector, competition in aviation and the conduct of some caravan manufacturers will be among the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities during 2021, ACCC Chair Rod Sims announced today. In his (...)

The Czech Government discusses two bills that may grant more powers to National Competition Authority New
Bird & Bird (Prague)
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Bird & Bird (Prague)
Currently, there are two bills being discussed in the Czech Parliament. Under the first bill, which implements the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) in the Czech Republic, the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (Office) would be entitled to require providers of public (...)

The Chinese Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council publishes anti-monopoly guidelines on platform economy
Queen Mary University (London)
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University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
On 10 November 2020, the State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”), China’s competition authority, released the Anti-Monopoly Guidelines on the Platform Economy (Draft for Public Opinions Solicitation) (the “Draft”). Around three months later, on 7 February 2021, the Anti-Monopoly (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority issues a set of guidelines for marketing and commercial practices related to green and eco-friendly claims New
Bird & Bird (Budapest)
The growing expectation of consumers towards manufacturers in offering environmental-friendly products and the impact of this expectation to commercial practises did not go unnoticed in Hungary either. At the end of 2020 the Hungarian Consumer Authority (“HCA”) assessed marketing and commercial (...)

The Dutch Competition Authority confirms more leeway for environmental sustainability initiatives following its revised guidelines New
Bird & Bird (Amsterdam)
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Bird & Bird (The Hague)
On 26 January 2021 the Dutch competition authority (ACM) published its revised draft sustainability guidelines (revised draft guidelines) which set out its approach to assessing the compatibility of sustainability initiatives with competition law. In addition, the ACM also published, in (...)

The German Parliament passes the 10th amendment of the German Act against restraints of competition New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 January 2021, the 10th Amendment of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) entered into force. The 10th Amendment, also referred to as the “Digitalisation Act”, introduces significant changes to German Competition Law. A previous issue of this newsletter (VBB on Competition (...)

The Danish Competition Authority publishes a report on competition in the legal profession New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 January 2021, the Danish Competition Council (“DCC”) presented its analysis of competition in the legal profession (“Analysis”), which is based on a thorough study of the market for legal services in Denmark. The Analysis contains a wide range of proposals that have the potential to improve (...)

The EU Commission and the UK Government publish an agreement governing post-Brexit trade relations that includes provisions on competition law enforcement and cooperation New
Van Bael & Bellis (London)
The Trade Cooperation Agreement (the “TCA”) includes various provisions regulating EU and UK competition law enforcement and cooperation, which became effective as of 1 January 2021. Competition law and merger control The TCA provides for a mutual commitment from the UK and the EU to maintain (...)

The UK Competition Authority publishes final report in its funeral market investigation and orders funeral directors and crematorium operators to disclose prices New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 December 2020, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published the final report of its market investigation into funeral services. The CMA said that it had serious concerns about the sector and it has put in place a number of “sunlight” remedies designed to make the sector more (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority publishes a decision ruling that state owned financial entities are under the Same Economic Unity (Gunes Sigorta / Vakifbank) New
ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
On 9 December 2020, the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) published a reasoned decision concerning an individual exemption application regarding two bancassurance agreements signed between (i) Güneş Sigorta A.Ş. (“Güneş Sigorta”) and Türkiye Vakıflar Bankası T.A.O. (“Vakıfbank”), (ii) Vakıf Emeklilik (...)

Anticompetitive practices

The French Competition Authority investigates on the abuse of a dominant position from a company in the electricity sector (Plum / EDF) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
After receiving a complaint from an electricity supplier, the Autorité de la concurrence has not issued urgent interim measures against EDF but continues its investigation into the merits of the case* The electricity supplier Plüm Energie, which offers the supply of electricity to local and (...)

The Hong Kong Competition Authority issues infringement notices to six hotel groups and a tour counter operator for facilitating a price-fixing cartel New
Hong Kong Competition Commission
Competition Commission issues infringement notices to six hotel groups and a tour counter operator for facilitating a price-fixing cartel* The Competition Commission (“Commission”) has issued infringement notices [ Pursuant to section 67(2) of the Competition Ordinance, the Commission may, (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority notifies economic agents of a statement of probable responsibility for a possible collusion in hygiene products manufactured with cellulose New
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
COFECE notified economic agents of a statement of probable responsibility for a possible collusion in hygiene products manufactured with cellulose* With this notification, the trial-like procedure begins, in which the economic agents will be able to defend themselves against the allegations (...)

The Finnish Competition Authority proposes a €22 million penalty to the Market Court on six companies operating in the real estate management sector for fixed prices New
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (Helsinki)
FCCA proposes that EUR 22 million in penalty payments be imposed for a price cartel on companies in real estate management and the Finnish Real Estate Management Federation* The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) proposes that the Market Court impose penalty payments in total of (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority concludes that there is a lack of competition in the maritime passenger transportation market in the islands of Mujeres and Cozumel (Magna) New
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
Lack of competition is preliminarily determined in maritime passenger transportation in the ferry modality in Isla Mujeres and Cozumel* In the Preliminary Investigative Opinion, the Investigative Authority concluded that Naviera Magna has a high market participation and the capacity to fix (...)

The Finnish Competition Authority releases two reports on positive and negative effects of Algorithms on competition New
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (Helsinki)
Continuous development of algorithms requires ensuring the functioning of competition and the interests of consumers* Algorithms may have both positive and negative effects on competition and consumers. Two reports by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) show that the current (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority fines two national pharmaceutical producers of PET radiopharmaceuticals for €5.76 million (Advanced Accelerator Applications / Novartis)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC fines the two main pharmaceutical producers of PET radiopharmaceuticals in Spain for €5.76 million* Radiopharmaceuticals are used in nuclear medicine tests to detect and monitor diseases such as cancer. The companies formed a cartel that, for at least four years, allocated the (...)

The Polish Competition Authority fines two animal feed manufacturers for collusion (Polmass / Agro-Netzwerk Polska) New
Polish Competition Authority (Warsaw)
Collusion between animal feed manufacturers - decision of the President of UOKiK* President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny proclaimed market allocation by animal feed producers - collusion limited the freedom of product choice for farmers and sellers of milk replacers. Polmass company was charged (...)

The Russian Competition Authority fines a cartel for price fixing in the fuel and lubricants sector (Nova / PNT / Belaya Zvezda)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
Cartel will pay more than 400 million fine for maintaining prices for fuel and lubricants* The FAS Russia brought the cartel participants to administrative responsibility By results of consideration of appeals of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, the FAS Russia ruled against (...)

The Australian Federal Court fines a Norwegian global shipping company for participating in a cartel (WWO)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Shipping cartel fines now total $83.5 million after WWO conviction* Norwegian-based global shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS (WWO) has been convicted of criminal cartel conduct and ordered by the Federal Court to pay a fine of $24 million, in a case prosecuted by the Commonwealth (...)

The German Competition Authority imposes fines on three steel forging companies for exchanging information (Bharat Forge Global / Musashi Bockenau / Bad Sobernheim)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt imposes fines on steel forging companies* The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines totalling approx. 35 million euros on three steel forging companies and two senior staff members for their involvement in an anti-competitive exchange of information. The companies concerned are (...)

The Australian Federal Court imposes a fine of $24 million on a Norwegian shipping company (WWO) New
Bird & Bird (Sydney)
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Bird & Bird (Sydney)
On 4 February 2021, the Federal Court of Australia imposed a fine of $24 million on Norwegian shipping company, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean AS (WWO), for its involvement in a criminal cartel with a number of other shipping companies between 2009 and 2012. More specifically, the Federal Court (...)

The Kenyan Competition Authority publishes draft guidelines as to competitor collaborations during the COVID-19 pandemic Free
Primerio (Washington)
Antitrust enforcer to allow self-assessment of competitor collaborations amidst pandemic* Following the (thus far rarely used) “Block Exemption” procedure under Section 30 (2) of the Kenyan Competition Act, the Competition Authority of Kenya (“CAK”) has proposed a new set of draft Guidelines as to (...)

The French Competition Authority publishes a study on how competition rules apply to professional bodies New
Bird & Bird (Paris)
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Bird & Bird (Paris)
While the ECN+ Directive is about to be transposed into French law, which will result in exposing professional bodies to potentially much heavier sanctions than under the current legal framework, the French Competition Authority (FCA) recently published a study on how competition rules apply to (...)

The EU Commission fines PC gaming platform operator and five video game publishers € 7.8 million for geo-blocking practices (Valve / Bandai Namco / Capcom / Focus Home / Koch Media / ZeniMax) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 20 January 2021, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced that it had fined the US company Valve, owner of the popular online PC gaming platform “Steam” (“Steam”), and five publishers of video games (Capcom, Bandai Namco, Koch Media, Focus Home Interactive and ZeniMax Media) a total of (...)

The EU Commission imposes fines in the video games sector for geo-blocking practices (Valve / Bandai Namco / Capcom / Focus Home / Koch Media / ZeniMax) New
Bird & Bird (Brussels)
One of the final cases resulting from the European Commission’s e-commerce sector enquiry has come to a conclusion. On 20 January 2021, the Directorate-General for Competition fined Valve Corporation, owner of the Steam game distribution platform, and five personal computer (PC) video game (...)

The UK Competition Authority publishes report into algorithms and their harm on consumers and competition law New
Bird & Bird (London)
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Bird & Bird (London)
The impact algorithms continue to have on market dynamics has been under scrutiny by competition authorities around the world in recent years. On 19 January 2021, the CMA published a report, following its investigation into algorithms and their potential harms on competition law. The paper (...)

The German Competition Authority monitors cooperation in the telecommunication sector (Telefónica / Deutsche Telekom / Vodafone) New
Bird & Bird (Dusseldorf)
The German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) will monitor a future broadband development cooperation between Deutsche Telekom AG, Vodafone and Telefonica aimed at closing gaps (so called “grey spots”) in their mobile telecommunication networks. The telecommunications companies are planning a tri-party (...)

The EU Court of Justice confirms that a bid-rigging infringement ends when the essential characteristics of the contract are concluded with the contracting authority (Eltel) New
Bird & Bird (Helsinki)
On 14 January 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a preliminary ruling relating to a Finnish bid-rigging case stating that a bid-rigging infringement ends on the day the essential characteristics of the contract, in particular the price, are concluded with the (...)

The German Competition Authority fines manufacturers of manhole covers €6 million for price-fixing (MeierGuss Sales & Logistics / KG) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 January 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) announced that it had fined two manufacturers of manhole covers approximately € 6 million for price-fixing and coordinating their respective offers for two large contracts. The companies manufacture products such as manhole covers and (...)

The EU Court of Justice provides guidance on end date of bid-rigging cartels (Eltel) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 January 2021, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) handed down a judgment on a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court (“FSAC”), in which it provides guidance on the duration of a company’s participation in a bid-rigging infringement. According to the (...)

The German Competition Authority fines five aluminium forging companies and ten responsible individuals for price fixing (Otto Fuchs / Leiber / Emmingen-Liptingen) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 December 2020, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) announced that it had fined five aluminium forging companies and ten responsible individuals a total amount of approximately € 175 million for price fixing between April 2006 and April 2018. Automotive and motorcycle manufacturers and (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal rejects concrete producer procedure-based appeal against concrete pipe cartel fine (FPM) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 22 December 2020, the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) rejected concrete producer FP McCann’s appeal of a decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) fining it for its participation in a cartel in the supply of pre-cast concrete drainage products. FP McCann appealed the CMA’s (...)

The Swedish Competition Authority adopts a stricter position toward resale price maintenance concerning online sales (Markslöjd) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 16 December 2020, Markslöjd AB, a supplier of lighting products, accepted to pay a fine of SEK 1,780,000 for resale price maintenance. The Swedish Competition Authority (“SCA”) found that Markslöjd AB had violated competition law by entering into agreements with one of its resellers to fix (...)

The German Competition Authority dismisses a crop protection producer’s claim for state liability against Federal Cartel Office (BayWa) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 2 December 2020, the Regional Court of Bonn (“Court”) dismissed a claim of € 72.8 million by crop protection producer BayWa against the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”). BayWa argued that the FCO had violated its procedural rights, in particular the principle of equal treatment, in the (...)

The EU Commission publishes its Staff Working Document on the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation New
Zepos & Yannopoulos (Athens)
On 8 September 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) published its Staff Working Document (“SWD”) in the context of the ongoing evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) to categories of (...)

The English High Court makes first competition disqualification order in the real estate sector (Re Property Group) New
Radcliffe Chambers (London)
In the summer of 2020 the first application by the Competition and Markets Authority (‘the CMA’) for a competition disqualification order pursuant section 9A of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (‘CDDA’) was heard remotely by the English High Court (Re Property Group (2010) Limited (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU Commission accepts commitments made by a pharmaceutical company to reduce prices for six off-patent cancer medicines by 73% addressing excessive pricing concerns (Aspen)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Aspen to reduce prices for six off-patent cancer medicines by 73% addressing excessive pricing concerns* The European Commission has made commitments offered by Aspen legally binding under EU antitrust rules. Aspen has to reduce its prices in Europe (...)

The Croatian Competition Authority fines a Mandarin oranges buyer for unfair trading practices (Jasenska) New
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
Unfair trading practices: CCA imposes HRK 350,000 fine on Mandarin Oranges buyer Jasenka from Opuzen* The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) opened ex officio infringement proceeding against the mandarin oranges buyer Jasenska within the meaning of the Act on prohibition of unfair trading (...)

The Latvian Competition Authority fines a national public capital company for abuse of a dominant position in the railway transports sector(Ldz cargo)
Konkurences padome (Riga)
The CC imposes a fine on the public capital company “LDZ CARGO” for abuse of a dominant position* The Competition Council of Latvia (the CC) detected that since 2007 the public capital company “LDZ CARGO”, abusing a dominant position, made it more difficult for competitors to operate in rail (...)

The EU Court of Justice confirms the Commission’s power to issue a request for additional information after statement of objections (Qualcomm) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 January 2021, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) handed down a judgment in Case C-466/19 P (Qualcomm Inc. and Qualcomm Europe v. European Commission). Following a complaint submitted in 2010 by Icera Inc., a producer and distributor of soft chipsets which deliver high-performance (...)

The Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court confirms a decision of the Competition Authority finding that a German internal combustion engine manufacturer had both abused its dominant position and entered into an anti-competitive agreement with its Danish dealer (Deutz / Diesel Motor Nordic) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 11 January 2021, the Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court (“MCC”) confirmed a decision of the Danish Competition Council (“DCC”) finding that the German internal combustion engine manufacturer Deutz had both abused its dominant position and entered into an anti-competitive agreement with (...)

The Czech Competition Authority upholds a fine of €1.6 million for resale price maintenance levied against childcare products supplier (Baby Direkt) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 January 2021, on appeal against a decision by the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (“Czech NCA”), the Chairman of the Czech NCA (the “Chairman”) upheld a fine of € 1.6 million levied by his organisation in November 2019 against childcare products supplier Baby Direkt. Baby Direkt (...)

The Italian Competition Authority condemns a ticketing and marketing company for committing exclusionary abuse (TicketOne) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 22 December 2020, the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) imposed a fine of around € 10.8 million on several companies belonging to the ticketing and marketing for music company, CTS Eventim-TicketOne group (“TicketOne”) for abuse of its dominant position on the Italian market for the sale of (...)

The Italian Competition Authority fines main national ticket operator €10.9 million for abuse of dominant position (TicketOne) New
Bird & Bird (Rome)
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Bird & Bird (Rome)
On 22 December 2020, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) issued an important decision fining CTS Eventim €10.9 million for having implemented an unlawful exclusive strategy in the Italian market of pop music events ticket sellers. In September 2018, the AGCM launched an investigation (...)

Mergers

The EU Commission clears the acquisition of American medical devices provider by leading medical imaging solutions company subject to conditions (Varian / Siemens Healthineers) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Varian by Siemens Healthineers, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Varian Medical Systems by Siemens AG, through its subsidiary Siemens Healthineers. The approval is (...)

The Australian Competition Authority has preliminary concerns with the merger between two insurance companies (Aon / Willis Towers Watson) New
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Preliminary competition concerns over Aon’s proposed merger of Willis Towers Watson* The ACCC has preliminary competition concerns with Aon plc’s (Aon) proposed merger with Willis Towers Watson plc (WTW). Aon and WTW are two of the three largest providers of commercial risk, reinsurance and (...)

The EU Commission adopts final measures to preserve the divestment of a former company plant in Belgium after a merger (Novelis / Aleris) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers : Commission adopts final measures to preserve the divestment of former Aleris plant in Belgium following Novelis’ acquisition of Aleris* The European Commission has adopted final measures to preserve the divestment of the former Aleris plant in Duffel, Belgium, by Novelis under the EU (...)

The French Competition Authority clears without conditions the acquisition by a media company of a national horseracing publication (Turf / NJJ) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears without conditions the acquisition of Groupe Paris Turf by NJJ Holding, controlled by Xavier Niel* On 11 June 2020, NJJ Holding (hereinafter ‘NJJ’), controlled by Mr. Xavier Niel and parent company of the NJJ Group, notified the Autorité de la concurrence of (...)

The UK Competition Authority decides that the merger between two online retail companies raises competition concerns (Adevinta / Gumtree) New
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Adevinta’s purchase of Gumtree raises competition concerns* The CMA has found that Adevinta’s anticipated £6.5bn ($9.2 billion) purchase of eCG from eBay could lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers. Adevinta and eBay Classified Group (eCG) both operate online classified advertising (...)

The Australian Competition Authority outlines competition concerns over a national software company’s proposed acquisition of a South African software provider that could substantially lessen competition in the accounting software market (MYOB / GreatSoft) New
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Preliminary competition concerns over MYOB’s GreatSoft acquisition* The ACCC has outlined preliminary competition concerns that MYOB’s proposed acquisition of GreatSoft could substantially lessen competition in the accounting software market. MYOB and GreatSoft both supply practice management (...)

The EU Commission clears an acquisition, subject to conditions, of Belgian agricultural products company by a Japanese trading house (Mitchui / Bechim) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Belchim by Mitsui, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Belchim by Mitsui. The approval is conditional on full compliance with a commitments package offered by Mitsui. (...)

The EU Commission refers to the French Competition Authority the review of the merger between two sewage maintenance companies (Suez / Veolia) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
The European Commission refers to the Autorité de la concurrence the review of the acquisition of Suez RV OSIS by SARP, a subsidiary of Veolia* On 5 February 2020, the European Commission referred the review of the takeover of Suez RV OSIS, a subsidiary of Suez, by SARP, a subsidiary of Véolia, (...)

The German Competition Authority expresses concerns over the merger between two food retailers (Edeka / Real stores) New
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt has concerns about Edeka’s acquisition of Real stores – negotiations on commitments* The Bundeskartellamt is currently examining plans by the Edeka group to acquire up to 72 Real stores from SCP Retail S.àr.l. Based on its preliminary assessment, the authority has competition (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority clears merger between two national airline companies but imposes sanctions for not notifying their concentration in time (Interject / HBC) New
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
COFECE sanctions Interjet and HBC for not notifying their concentration in time* The Commission imposed fines for a total amount of 955 thousand 680 Mexican pesos. The concentration was authorized after verifying that the operation does not affect competition and free market access. The Board (...)

The Irish Competition Authority clears subject to conditions a joint venture between the national electricity supply board and a forestry company (ESB / Coillte) New
Irish Competition Authority (Dublin)
CCPC obtains commitments in ESB/Coillte joint venture* The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared, subject to a number of legally binding commitments, the proposed joint venture between the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and Coillte Cuideachta Ghníomhaíochta Ainmnithe (...)

The US FTC and the US DoJ announce the temporary suspension of all early terminations of merger reviews for transactions notified under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act
Baker Botts (Washington)
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Baker Botts (Washington)
Today the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced the temporary suspension of all early terminations of merger reviews for transactions notified under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the ”HSR Act”). The agencies cited the transition (...)

The UK Competition Authority requires national ticket exchange and resale company to sell secondary ticketing platform’s international business to address competition concerns (Viagogo / StubHub)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
CMA requires viagogo to sell StubHub’s international business* The CMA is requiring viagogo to sell all of StubHub’s business outside North America after its in-depth investigation identified competition concerns. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that the merger between (...)

The US FTC revises thresholds for Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and Corporate Interlock Statute
Baker Botts (Washington)
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Baker Botts (Washington)
On February 1, 2021, 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 revised thresholds for the Hart-Scott-Rodino as well as for the for Section 8 of the Clayton Act
Covington & Burling (Washington)
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Covington & Burling (Washington)
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Covington & Burling (Washington)
Today, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published revised thresholds for the Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) Act, which will take effect on March 4, 2021. Earlier, the FTC also announced new thresholds for Section 8 of the Clayton Act, which governs interlocking directorates. Each of these thresholds (...)

The US FTC requires parties to transactions exceeding certain thresholds to file premerger notification following the reform of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act
Shearman & Sterling (Washington)
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Shearman & Sterling (New York)
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Shearman & Sterling (Washington)
On February 2, 2021, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the annual changes to the thresholds for the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”). The new size of transaction threshold is $92 million. The new HSR Act thresholds will go into (...)

The US FTC lowers the thresholds for acquisitions meaning that transactions more than $92 million require preclosing filing and approval
Morgan Lewis (New York)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on February 1 that it will lower the Hart­-Scott-­Rodino Act (HSR Act) jurisdictional and filing fee thresholds. Any transaction closing on or after March 4, 2021 will be subject to the revised thresholds. The new rules include a decrease in the “size (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a transaction in the hydrogen production sector (Storengy / DMSE)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité clears the stake acquired in Storengy, a subsidiary of Engie, by DMSE, a company created by the Metropolitan Authority of Dijon and the group Rougeot, which is active in the hydrogen production sector* Background When examining the transaction concerning the stake acquired by DMSE (...)

The US FTC announces its revised lower thresholds for premerger filings under the HSR Act New
Sheppard Mullin (Los Angeles)
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Sheppard Mullin (Washington)
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Sheppard Mullin (Washington)
Lower Filing Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced* Lower Thresholds For HSR Filings On February 1st, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, lower thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust (...)

The EU Commission conditionally clears the acquisition of a financial data products provider by a leading financial infrastructure company (Refinitiv / London Stock Exchange) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 13 January 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) conditionally cleared the London Stock Exchange Group’s (“LSEG”) acquisition of financial data products provider Refinitiv following an in-depth (Phase 2) investigation. LSEG is a leading financial infrastructure company, which operates the (...)

The UK Competition Authority breaks up vehicle and trailer parts merger (TVS Europe Distribution / 3G) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 12 January 2021, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) ordered the commercial vehicle and trailer supplier Universal Components UK (which is owned by TVS Europe Distribution) to sell 3G Truck & Trailer Parts, following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation into the completed merger (...)

State Aid

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves renewing temporary amendments to Norway’s seafarer tax refund scheme in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic New Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
COVID-19 pandemic: ESA approves renewing temporary amendments to Norway’s seafarer tax refund scheme* The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved a renewal of temporary amendments to a Norwegian aid scheme that grants tax and social security contribution refunds. The refunds are (...)

The EU Court of Justice states that the deferral of the payment of taxes introduced by France to support airlines that hold a national licence amid the COVID-19 pandemic is consistent with EU law (Ryanair) New Free
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
The deferral of the payment of taxes introduced by France to support airlines which hold a French licence amid the Covid-19 pandemic is consistent with EU law* That aid scheme is appropriate for making good the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and does not constitute (...)

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves increased support for the tourism sector in Norway in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic New Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
COVID-19 Pandemic: ESA approves increased support for the tourism sector in Norway* The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved a budget increase for the liquidity support grant scheme for businesses in Norway’s tourism sector from NOK 550 million to NOK 850 million. On 6 July (...)

The EU Commission approves €1.4 billion Swedish scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak New Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €1.4 billion Swedish scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved an approximately €1.4 billion (SEK 14 billion) Swedish scheme to support the uncovered fixed costs of companies affected (...)

The EU Commission opens in-depth investigation into Romanian support measures in favour of national lignite-based electricity producer (CE Oltenia)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Romanian support measures in favour of CE Oltenia* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Romanian support measures in favour of Complexul Energetic Oltenia SA (‘CE Oltenia’) would be in line with EU (...)

The EU Commission approves €300 million Austrian scheme for package travel organisers and facilitators of linked travel services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €300 million Austrian scheme for package travel organisers and facilitators of linked travel services in the context of the coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €300 million Austrian scheme for package travel (...)

The EU Commission adopts 5th amendment to the temporary framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak New Free
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 January 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) amended the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (the “Temporary FrameworK”). Below we outline the most relevant amendments: The application of the Temporary Framework is (...)

The EU Commission publishes its new Temporary Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic New
College of Europe (Bruges)
Liquidity Assistance to Banks to Counter the Effects of Covid-19* Any direct public support of financial institutions affected by covid-19 has to comply with both State aid rules and the rules of the banking union. Introduction The Temporary Framework for State aid to combat covid-19 (...)

The EU General Court provides guidance on the standing to challenge Commission decisions rejecting State aid complaints and the concepts of ’State resources’ and ’imputability’ with regard to decisions adopted by industry associations (Bezouaoui / HB Consultant) New
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 13 January 2021, the European General Court (“GC”) delivered a judgment providing guidance on the standing to challenge European Commission (“Commission”) decisions rejecting State aid complaints, and on the concepts of “State resources” and “imputability” within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. (...)

The EU Commission decides that bus transportation provided by public authorities constitutes economic activity (Helsingin Bussiliikenne) New
College of Europe (Bruges)
Helsinki Busses, Loans, Article 93 and Indemnification* Bus transportation provided by public authorities constitutes economic activity. Loans given by a public authority to its transport unit have to be priced at market rates. The market value of public assets sold to third parties has to (...)

Regulatory

The US Senate passes the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act which prohibits employers from retaliating against certain individuals New
GeyerGorey (Washington)
An Update on Criminal Antitrust Whistleblower Legislation* On Dec. 23, 2020, the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (the “Act”), finally became law. The legislation had passed in the Senate several times previously but until this last Congress, had never been brought up for a vote in the (...)

The US Congress creates a new protection for antitrust whistleblowers New
Bona Law (San Diego)
Congress Creates New Protections for Antitrust Whistleblowers* Over a year after it was first passed by the Senate, the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act finally became law in December 2020. The new law protects employees who report criminal antitrust violations such as price fixing or (...)

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