January 2004

Anticompetitive practices

The UK High Court rules on the applicability of a national doctrine in circumstances where it has previously been held that, in principle, the issue falls within the scope of article 81 EC (Days Medical Aids / Pihsiang)
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton (Brussels)
Facts of the case Days Medical Aids Ltd (“DMA”) carried on business as, inter alia, an importer of wheelchairs and scooters designed to assist people with mobility problems. Pihsiang Machinery Manufacturing Co Ltd (“PMM”) exported substantial numbers of scooters worldwide. In 1996, DMA and PMM (...)

The Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court decides on passing on defence in the vitamins cartel (Vitaminpreise)
Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
The Higher Regional Court Karlsruhe decided in its judgment of 28 January 2004 on the passing on defence in a cartel damages-suit concerning the vitamins cartel (Vitaminpreise). The judgment The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) Karlsruhe has in its judgment of 28 January 2004 refused (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission imposes a surcharge on one participant in bidding for civil engineering works (Kanto Kensetsu)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC surcharged Kanto Kensetsu, a participant in bidding for civil engineering works called by City of Kawagoe* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC),following a hearing examination initiated on 6 August 2003, issued a decision that a construction company, K.K. Kanto Kensetsu pay surcharge (...)

The EU Court of Justice upholds the judgment of the General Court in the cement cartel case and sets fines of €53.6 million (Aalborg Portland / Irish Cement / Ciments français / Italcementi / Buzzi Unicem / Cementir)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
The Court of Justice upholds in substance the judgment delivered by the Court of First Instance in 2000 concerning the Cement Cartel Anti-competitive practices and agreements constitute economic infringements designed to maximise the profits of the participating undertakings. The harmful (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Hungarian Competition Authority fines telecom incumbent for margin squeeze in fixed telephone market (Magyar Telekom)
Morley Allen & Overy Iroda (Budapest)
Dentons (Budapest)
On January 22, 2004, the Hungarian Competition Office (the “HCO”) issued a ruling which determined that Magyar Távközlési Rt. (“MATAV”) infringed the provisions of Hungarian competition law regarding the abuse of its dominant position by applying wholesale and retail tariffs that led to a margin (...)

The Hungarian Competition Authority fines incumbent telecom service provider for price squeeze (Magyar Távközlési)
Lakatos, Köves (Budapest)
Lakatos, Köves (Budapest)
The Hungarian Competition Office (HCO) launched an investigation against Magyar Távközlési Rt. (Matáv) in order to find out whether Matáv had abused its dominant postition between February and July 2002 by determining retail prices in relation to the interconnection fees in the wholesale market in a (...)

The US Supreme Court introduces a new method for regulatory antitrust analysis (Trinko / Verizon)
K&L Gates (Pittsburgh)
K&L Gates (Pittsburgh)
A New Method for Regulatory Antitrust Analysis? Verizon Communications v. Trinko* In Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004), the United States Supreme Court adopted a novel method for applying the antitrust laws in regulated markets and thereby (...)


The Turkish Competition Authority finds that the privatization of a state owned petroleum refinery operator is a concentration, and will monitor its investments to prevent abuse of dominance (Tupras)
Esin (Istanbul)
The operation TUPRAS is a state owned company which operates petroleum refineries in Turkey. In 1990, it was decided to privatize TUPRAS, subsequent to which two public offerings were held. As a result of the offerings, the publicly held portion of TUPRAS raised to 34.24% of the total (...)

The Irish Competition Authority cleared a merger in the fresh mushrooms market (Carbury Mushrooms/Monaghan Middlebrook Mushrooms)
Merck (Ireland)
Introduction On 26th January 2004 The Irish Competition Authority produced the results of it’s investigation into Monaghan Middlebrook Mushrooms Limited acquiring 100% shareholding in Carbury Mushrooms Limited. The report was self-initiated following a newspaper report regarding the proposed (...)

The Lithuanian Competition Council cleared a concentration in the milk products markets with divestments (A.Trumpa et al./Rokiðkio sûris)
Amazon (Singapore)
The operation By a decision dated 22 January 2004, the Lithuanian Competition Council authorized in phase I the acquisition by A.Trumpa, UAB Pieno pramonës investicijø valdymas (« Pieno pramonës investicijø valdymas »), UAB Survesta (« Survesta ») and UAB Snavesta (« Snavesta ») of up to 100 % shares (...)

The European Commission welcomes German manufacturer of bearings to withdraw its acquisition of French bearings maker (SNFA/INA/AIG)
European Commission (Brussels)
Gardyn (Washington)
European Commission - DG TRADE (Brussels)
"Merger control: Main developments 1 January to 30 April 2004 INA/AIG/SNFA"* The proposed acquisition of the French precision bearing manufacturer SNFA by Europe’s leading bearing producer INA, jointly with the insurance group AIG, is an illustrative example for the impact of competition (...)

The EU Commission issues an amended implementing regulation after the adoption of a new merger regime
European Commission - DG TRADE (Brussels)
Jones Day (Brussels)
DG COMP (Brussels)
"An amended merger implementing regulation for a new merger regime"* A. Introduction The adoption of a new Merger Regulation by the Council on 20 January 2004, has made it necessary for the Commission to review the implementing measures which it had put in place under the old merger regime. (...)

The UK Office of Fair Trading clears a merger in the pharmaceutical sector accepting remedies in lieu of reference to the Competition Commission including a commitment not the increase prices for two pharmaceutical products (Ivax / 3M)
Baker McKenzie (Dusseldorf)
The operation Ivax and 3M both manufacture and supply pharmaceutical products including products for the treatment of asthma. Ivax has acquired 3M’s distribution business for certain asthma treatments operating in the UK, IRE, D, F, NL, N, S, SF and DK. The transaction was notified to to the (...)

The EU Commission conditionally clears a merger in the publishing sector (Lagardère / Natexis / VUP)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Midi-Pyrénées Regional Board (Toulouse)
DG COMP (Brussels)
"Lagardère/Natexis/VUP: big deal in a small world"* The COMP/M.2978 Lagardère/Natexis/VUP case concerned the proposed acquisition of Editis (formerly called Vivendi Universal Publishing or VUP) by the Lagardère conglomerate. Before the transaction, Editis was the leader in the publishing, (...)

State Aid

The French Supreme Administrative Court holds that the over-compensation paid to health establishments for medical equipment does not constitute State aid (Syndicat National de l’Industrie des Technologies Médicales)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
European States have been trying for years to reduce the expenses of their national health system. In that respect, the French Minister of Health has adopted a number of orders (arrêtés) aiming to encourage all actors in the French Social Security sector (Sécurité Sociale), and among others, public (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal holds a bank liable in damages for its lack of diligence during EU Commission proceedings (CDR / FG Marine-Stardust)
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton (Brussels)
European Commission (Brussels)
Brief description of the facts and legal issues In June 1997, CDR sold its majority holding in Stardust Marine ("Stardust") to FG Marine. In September 1999, the Commission considered that the State aid granted to Stardust was incompatible with the Common Market and ordered reimbursement of the (...)


The EU Commission launches a sector inquiry into the sale of sports rights to Internet and 3G mobile operators
Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (Courbevoie)
Hellenic Competition Authority (Athens)
"Using the instrument of sector-wide inquiries: inquiry into content for 3G services"* 1. The importance of a proactive approach in the antitrust field, especially regarding emerging markets DG Competition has launched a comprehensive rethinking of the use of its instruments. This has been (...)

The French Competition Authority issues an opinion concerning the regulations governing taxi activity (Fédération Nationale des taxis indépendants)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. The Conseil de la concurrence issues an opinion on the taxi sector.* Following a referral by the Fédération Nationale des taxis indépendants (National Independent Taxi Federation), the Conseil de la concurrence (...)

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