March 2019 - II

Anticompetitive practices

The Turkish Competition Authority finds exchange of informations and supply restrictions from nine undertakings during an investigation in the Poultry sector (Investigation in the Poultry Sector)
ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
The Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) has concluded its full-fledged investigation regarding a total of 20 undertakings operating in the poultry sector. In its decision dated 13.03.2019 and numbered 19-12/155-70, the TCA held that the following 9 undertakings violated Article 4 of the Law No. (...)

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California finds that an athletic association’s cap on grants given to athletes is an anticompetitive restraint of trade (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
Constantine Cannon (New York)
NCAA May Have Lost Antitrust Case to Student-Athletes, But How Much Did It Really Lose?* Friday’s 104-page ruling in the antitrust case challenging the compensation rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) is not a clear-cut victory for either side. Although Judge Claudia (...)

The EU Commission accepts remedies proposed by entertainment companies ending competition concerns in the pay-TV services market (Disney / NBCUniversal / Sony Pictures / Warner Bros / Sky)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky on cross-border pay-TV services* The European Commission has made commitments offered by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky legally binding under EU antitrust rules. (...)

The EU Commission fines car safety equipment suppliers for illegal information exchanges (Takata / Autoliv / TRW)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines car safety equipment suppliers € 368 million in cartel settlement* The European Commission has fined Autoliv and TRW a total of € 368 277 000 for breaching EU antitrust rules. Takata was not fined as it revealed the cartels to the Commission. The companies took part (...)

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 Hale / RAMAM)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
On 21 February, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) found that Hargreave Hale Ltd (“Hargreave Hale”), Newton Investment Management Limited (“Newton”), and River and Mercantile Asset Management LLP (“RAMAM”) had breached competition law by sharing strategic information on a bilateral basis (...)

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 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 Court of Appeal of England and Wales upholds the CMA’s finding 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 EU General Court awards damages to an envelopes producer for the European Commission’s failure to include default interest when repaying an annulled cartel fine (Printeos)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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 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 German Competition Authority publishes a paper summarizing its sector inquiry into online price comparison websites
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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 Supreme Administrative Court of Czech Republic annuls fines imposed on members of a construction cartel as the evidence were obtained through "fishing expeditions" (Daich / Hochtief Cz / Swietelsky / Ave Cz / Vidox / Colas Cz / Ohl Žs / Lesostavby Třeboň)
Skils (Prague)
On 30 January 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) rejected the cassation appeal lodged by the Office for Protection of Competition (Office) against the previous Regional Court in Brno (RCB) judgment which cancelled Office’s decision fining construction companies for alleged cartel (...)

The EU Commission publishes a report on competition enforcement in the pharmaceutical sector between 2009 and 2017
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 January 2019, the European Commission adopted a report on competition enforcement in the pharmaceutical sector between 2009 and 2017. The report provides an overview on the enforcement of antitrust and merger rules in the pharmaceutical sector and describes how competition law enforcement (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority adopts a settlement decision in a case concerning a practice of resale prise maintenance (HM Products Benelux)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Investigation and Prosecution Service of the BCA adopts a settlement decision for imposing maximum discount levels on a network of dealers and imposes a fine amounting to 98.000 EUR* The Investigation and Prosecution Service of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) sanctions the company (...)

The COMESA Competition Commission’s second investigation into restrictive vertical distribution ends with a beverage company avoiding a fine after agreeing to eliminate price maintenance clauses (Coca-Cola)
Primerio (Washington)
COMESA’S SECOND RESTRICTIVE TRADE PRACTICES INVESTIGATION ENDS INCONCLUSIVELY* Having now concluded two non-merger cases (the first was an exclusivity issue in football broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, see here), the COMESA Competition Commission’s (“CCC”) second investigation into (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU Commission imposes a fine of 1.49 Billions euros on a search engine company for abusing its dominant position by imposing restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites (Google Adsens)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising* The European Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party (...)

The Danish Competition Authority issues a study on excessive pricing in pharmaceutical markets
Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (Copenhagen)
Excessive Pricing in Pharmateutical 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 Czech Competition Authority fines a food retailer for abuse of dominance consisting in 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 meteorogical 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 German Competition Authority fines a bicycle purchasing cooperative for resale price maintenance (ZEG)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
According to a press release dated 29 January 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) has fined bicycle cooperative Zweirad-Einkaufs-Genossenschaft (“ZEG”) and its representatives a total of € 13.4 million for retail price maintenance. ZEG sells bicycles to its members under its own brands, (...)

The Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation considers a competition case for the first time, granting the appeal of Europe’s largest port operator concerning sanctions for abuse of dominance (Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port)
ALRUD (Moscow)
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ALRUD (Moscow)
THE FIRST COMPETITION CASE IN THE PRESIDIUM OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION – RESOLUTION OF THE DISPUTE BETWEEN THE FAS AND THE LARGEST STEVEDORE* Background and main problems Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port PJSC (“NCSP”) is one of the Europe’s largest port operator in terms of (...)

Mergers

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the motor vehicle distribution sector and establishes a new method for analysing mergers in this sector (Bernard Participations / Emil Frey Motors France and Fiber)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Distribution of motor vehicles* The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of joint control of the company Bernard Participations SAS by the company Emil Frey Motors France and the company Fiber. This transaction led the Autorité to review its method for analysing mergers in the (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in retail markets for electricity and gas (E.ON / Innogy)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into E.ON’s proposed acquisition of Innogy* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Innogy by E.ON under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission has concerns that the proposed (...)

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 by Compagnie Financière Européenne de Prise de Participation (COFEPP) On 3 January 2019, the Compagnie Financière Européenne de Prises de Participation (“Cofepp”) notified (...)

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 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 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 (...)

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 General Court annuls Commission’s state aid decision concerning 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’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 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 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 (...)

The EU Commission publishes its 2018 State aid Scoreboard detailing Member State expenditure on State aid in 2017
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 24 January 2019, the European Commission published its 2018 State Aid Scoreboard. The Scoreboard provides detailed information on the Member States’ aid expenditures in 2017. It is based on expenditure reports by Member States and covers all existing aid measures to industries, services, (...)

The EU Court of Justice holds that the EU rules does not impose time limitation rules when national courts deal with claim for damages arising from non-notified aid (Fallimento Traghetti del Mediterraneo)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU General Court annuls a Commission decision which found that Slovakia did not grant incompatible state aid to a chemical company (AlzChem)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Commission finds a Cypriot State aid scheme for vulnerable households borrowers to be compatible with the internal market
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Commission finds a State aid to a Conservatory to be compatible with the internal market (Fundació Privada Conservatori del Liceu)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

The EU Commission holds that the intervention of the French state to a phone company does not constitute state aid as it complies with the market economy investor principle (Orange)
College of Europe (Bruges)
Article published on StateAidHub: http://stateaidhub.eu, republished in e-Competitions with the courtesy of the author. The original title of this article appears below the e-Competitions title. Authors are welcome to write an alternative article on this case/text, provided they have no (...)

Procedures

The Spanish Supreme Court recognises the investigated companies’ rights of opposition to dawn raids in an energy sector case (Repsol)
CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo (Madrid)
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CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo (Madrid)
On 17 September 2018, the Spanish Supreme Court reinforced the necessary requirements for the Spanish Competition Authority (“CNMC”) to carry out competition dawn raids by recognizing the investigated companies’ “right of opposition” to inspections when the inspectors refuse to inform them of the (...)

Regulatory

The US 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 and German governments publish a joint manifesto calling for a new European industrial policy with changes to merger control and State aid rules
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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. (...)

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