March 2000

Anticompetitive practices

The European Commission, applying art. 7 of reg. 870/95, decides not to oppose exemption of a consortium agreement (Grand Alliance)
DG COMP (Brussels)
"The Grand Alliance"* On 30 March 2000, the Commission, applying Article 7 of Regulation 870/95, decided not to oppose exemption of the Grand Alliance consortium agreement. This decision was the last decision to be taken under Regulation 870, bringing the total number of exemptions granted (...)

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)
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)
DG COMP (Brussels)
"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)
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 European 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)
Fieldfisher (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 Spanish Competition Authority rules that a non-compete clause of unlimited duration did not infringe either EC nor national competition provisions on the basis of a "de minimis" yet unwritten rule (Hardi International)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
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 (...)

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