March 2000

Anticompetitive practices

The EU Court of Justice states that anti-competitive conduct required of undertakings by national legislation which eliminates the competitive activity is not unlawful (CNSD)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case T-513/93 Consiglio Nazionale degli Spedizionieri Doganali v Commission of the European Communities* 1. The concept of an undertaking within the meaning of Article 85 of the Treaty (now Article 81 EC) covers any entity engaged in an economic activity, regardless of its legal status and (...)

The Luxembourg District Court holds that an agreement between a petrol company and a petrol station is an agency agreement outside the scope of the prohibition of cartels (Aral / Koepfler)
Arendt & Medernach (Luxembourg)
NautaDutilh (Luxembourg)
Case Koepfler s.à r.l. (“Koepfler”) operated on an independent basis one of the petrol stations of Aral Luxembourg S.A. (“Aral”), a subsidiary of the German petrol group Aral. Aral and Koepfler had concluded an agency agreement in this respect in 1984. Pursuant to this agreement Koepfler had to (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice holds that a health insurer does not violate the vertical price fixing prohibition by agreeing with care providers on fixed prices for the services that the care providers render to insured patients (Zahnersatz aus Manila)
Linklaters (Düsseldorf)
Description of the impugned case The Court states that the health insurer’s fixing prices for certain dental services provided to insured patients does not constitute an unlawful vertical price fixing agreement due to the fact that the insurer finally has to pay for the dental services. As (...)

The EU Commission grants an individual exemption under article 81(3) of the EC Treaty for the creation of a joint venture between airlines (British Midland International / Lufthansa / SAS)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"Commission approves British Midland International joining STAR alliance"* On 1 March 2000 the airlines British Midland International (bmi), Lufthansa and SAS (hereinafter ‘The Parties’) notified to the European Commission a co-operation agreement in accordance with Regulation 3975/87 for a (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU Commission closes its investigation into long-term supply agreements in the context of gas market liberalization (Gas Natural)
DG GROW (Brussels)
"Long-term supply agreements in the context of gas market liberalisation: Commission closes investigation of Gas Natural"* Introduction On 27 March 2000 the Commission announced its decision to close its investigation concerning the long-term gas supply agreement entered into by the Spanish (...)


The EU Commission opens full investigation into the proposed acquisition of a British broadband cable company (Microsoft / Liberty Media/ Telewest)
European External Action Service (Brussels)
Financial Conduct Authority (London)
"Merger Control: main developments between 1st May 2000 and 31st August 2000"* Microsoft notified an operation in February whereby it would have acquired joint control over Telewest, a British broadband cable company, with Liberty Media, a subsidiary of AT&T Corp. The Commission started an (...)

The EU Commission authorises, subject to remedies, the participation of a UK Broadcaster in the pay-TV operator in Germany (BSkyB / KirchPayTV)
European Commission - DG COMP (Brussels)
"The Commission’s assessment of the participation of BSkyB in the pay-tv operator in germany"* Pay-TV KirchPayTV has a virtual monopoly on the German pay-TV market, although with a loss making business. BSkyB adds a very successful pay-TV company, with experience of digital interactive TV (...)

The Czech Competition Office clears a merger in the industrial synthetic lines sector subject to remedies (SFI Beteiligungs / Silon)
Wolf Theiss (Prague)
The operation Based on the business acquisition agreement between SFI and the Silon dated 29 November 1999, SFI acquired part of business of Silon (Monofila line). SFI is a German private holding company (in itself a non-operating business) and forms a part of APEX group which includes (...)

The French Minister of Economics clears a merger in the energy sector with remedies, including output restriction and cross-subsidies prevention (EDF / Siemens-Cogema / Clemessy )
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The operation EDF and Cogema through their subsidiaries SDS and Tasys have acquired 45% of SRPG, a company that holds 67,39% of Clemessy. EDF is a French energy group active in all activities of the value chain including the supply of electricity in France. Clemessy is active in the supply of (...)

The EU Commission prohibits a concentration between two Swedish truck producers (Volvo / Scania)
Swedish Competition Authority (Stockholm)
"Case No : COMP/M. 1672 – Volvo/Scania"* Introduction On 15 March 2000, the Commission decided to declare the proposed concentration between the two Swedish truck producers, Volvo and Scania, incompatible with the common market. The prohibition decision was based on what may be summarised as a (...)

The Dutch NCA cleared a merger in the press sector with divestment remedy (Wegener Arcade - VNU Dagbladen)
Bahl & Co (Amsterdam)
The operation Wegener Arcade proposed acquiring the whole of VNU Dagbladen’s issued share capital (para. 14). The market(s) The NMa assessed the effects of the merger in relation to the market of (i) national and regional newspapers and (ii) full-line press services (para. 70 and 138). (...)


The EU Court of Justice upholds that the statement of reasons on which the Commission based its decision must be clear to enable the persons concerned to ascertain the reasons for the measure (Florimex)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case C-265/97 P Coöperatieve Vereniging De Verenigde Bloemenveilingen Aalsmeer BA (VBA) v Florimex BV and Others* 1. The statement of reasons required by Article 190 of the Treaty (now Article 253 EC) must be appropriate to the act at issue and must disclose in a clear and unequivocal fashion (...)

The EU Court of Justice rejects a plea in law put forward for the first time in the appeal before the Court (VBA & VGB)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Case C-266/97 P Coöperatieve Vereniging De Verenigde Bloemenveilingen Aalsmeer BA (VBA) v Vereniging van Groothandelaren in Bloemkwekerijproducten (VGB) and Others* 1. In finding that special circumstances could preclude the Commission from closing the procedure on complaints where the (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority rules that a non-compete clause of unlimited duration did not infringe either EC or national competition provisions on the basis of a "de minimis" yet unwritten rule (Hardi International)
European Commission (Brussels)
Garrigues (Brussels)
In a Decision dated March 27th, 2000, the former Spanish second-tier Competition Authority (“Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia”, hereinafter, the “TDC”) ruled that a non-compete clause ancillary to a merger of unlimited duration did not infringe either Article 81 EC or Article 1 of the Spanish (...)

The EU Court of First Instance dismisses the actions brought by a soft drink company as inadmissible since the finding of a dominant position in a Commission decision authorising a merger operation has no legal effects (Coca-Cola)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
A FINDING OF A DOMINANT POSITION IN A COMMISSION DECISION AUTHORISING A MERGER OPERATION HAS NO LEGAL EFFECTS* The Court of First Instance has dismissed the actions brought by "The Coca-Cola Company" and "Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc." as inadmissible. Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. ("CCE"), is the (...)

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