March 2019

Anticompetitive practices

The French Competition Authority fines an Economic Interest Group of taxis for anticompetitive agreements (GIE de taxis d’Antibes Juan-les-Pins)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Transport by taxi* The Autorité de la concurrence fines the Economic Interest Group (EIG) of Antibes Juan-les-Pins’ taxis for anticompetitive agreements. The radio-taxi EIG of Antibes Juan-les-Pins is an association gathering the majority of the city’s self-employed taxi drivers. Its main (...)

The FTC reverses Administrative Law Judge decision, finding Section 5 violation for reverse-payment settlement (Impax)
Rutgers University
In FTC v. Actavis, the Supreme Court ruled that settlements by which brand drug companies pay generics to delay entering the market could violate antitrust law. In In the Matter of Impax Laboratories, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) offered its first elaboration upon this (...)

The EU General Court reduces a fine imposed in a cartel case (Pometon)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 March 2019, the General Court (“GC”) delivered a judgment on an appeal lodged by Pometon against the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision in the Steel Abrasives cartel case (Case T-433/16, Pometon SA v. Commission). In April 2014, the Commission imposed fines totalling over € 30 (...)

The EU Commission fines a company for restricting cross-border and online sales of branded merchandise by its european licensees (Nike)
Crowell & Moring (Brussels)
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Crowell & Moring (Brussels)
E-Commerce in Europe: A Look into Nike’s Huge Antitrust Fines* On March 25, the European Commission (EC) fined Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border and online sales of branded merchandise by its European licensees. In December last year, the EC fined Guess €40 million for imposing (...)

The EU Commission fines a multinational company selling football apparel and footwear for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products (Nike)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products* The European Commission has fined Nike €12.5 million for banning traders from selling licensed merchandise to other countries within the EEA. This restriction concerned merchandising (...)

The EU Commission imposes € 12.5 million fine on a company for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products (Nike)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 25 March 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced its decision to fine Nike € 12,555,000 for limiting the ability of licensees to sell licensed merchandising products to other EEA countries. According to the Commission’s press release, the restrictions concerned the merchandise (...)

The Mexican Competition Authority investigates the rail transport of chemical and petrochemical products and determines that there is a lack of effective competition (Veracruz)
Mexican Competition Authority (Mexico City)
COFECE’s Investigative Authority preliminarily determines the lack of effective competition in the rail transport of chemical and petrochemical products in the south of the state of Veracruz* The Investigative Authority’s Preliminary Opinion stipulates that lack of competition affects the rail (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority issues statements of objections to supermarket chains and beverage suppliers for price fixing (Modelo Continente / Pingo Doce / Auchan and Intermarché / Lidl / E. Leclerc)
Portuguese Competition Authority (Lisbon)
AdC issues Statements of Objections to supermarket chains and beverage suppliers for price fixing, harmful to consumers* The AdC – Portuguese Competition Authority issued three Statements of Objections to six large food retail groups in Portugal and three beverage suppliers for taking part in (...)

The Belgian parliament adopts law regarding abuse of economic dependency prohibiting unfair, misleading and aggressive practices between undertakings
Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
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Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
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Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
On 21 March 2019, the Belgian parliament adopted a law (i) expanding the scope of Belgian competition law to also cover abuses of economic dependency, (ii) introducing a greylist and a blacklist of clauses in B2B agreements and (iii) prohibiting certain unfair, misleading and/or aggressive (...)

The Highest administrative court in the Netherlands rules, in relation to a food sector cartel, that the Dutch Competition Authority can find private equity investors liable for cartel infringements of their portfolio companies (Flour cartel)
Bird & Bird (The Hague)
Private equity investors held liable for cartels in the Netherlands* Introduction On 19 March 2019, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands (het College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven, “CBb”) ruled that the Dutch Competition Authority (“the ACM”) can hold private equity investors (...)

The United States District Court For The Northern District Of Illinois receives a class action complaint against a pay-for-delay agreement (Abbvie)
Constantine Cannon (Washington)
Plaintiffs Targeting Biologic-Biosimilars Settlements with Pay-for-Delay Antitrust Claims* Antitrust principles that can invalidate certain pay-for-delay settlements will be expanding into the new frontier of biologic and biosimilar drugs if plaintiffs in several new suits are successful. (...)

The EU Court of Justice clarifies, in a preliminary ruling concerning an asphalt cartel, who is liable to pay compensation in a damages action arising from article 101 TFEU (Skanska Industrial Solutions)
Lavoielegal (Brussels)
Court of Justice ruling in Skanska: EU competition law concept of ‘undertakings’ and principle of economic continuity to the rescue in civil damages claims* In its preliminary ruling in Skanska Industrial Solutions and Others, the Court of Justice has ruled on the fundamental question of who is (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority imposes fines totalling € 118 million on railway infrastructure companies for participating in a cartel (Cobra / Elecnor / Siemens / Semi / Inabensa / Alstom / Cymi / Isolux / Electre / Comsa / Indra / Neopul / Telice / Eym / Citracc)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 March 2019, the Spanish competition authority (“CNMC”) imposed fines totalling € 118 million on fifteen companies, namely Cobra, Elecnor, Siemens, Semi, Inabensa, Alstom, Cymi, Isolux, Electren, Comsa, Indra, Neopul, Telice, Eym and Citracc, for their involvement in a cartel on the market (...)

The EU Court of Justice confirms the application of the principle of economic continuity in private enforcement of a cartel case (Vantaan kaupunki / Skanska Industrial Solutions)
Sérvulo & Associados (Lisbon)
The Principle Of Economic Continuity’s Application On Private Enforcement: Case 724/17 Skanska* With two major decisions, March 2019 was an interesting month with regard to the ECJ’s case-law on the private enforcement of competition law: Skanska and Cogeco. This post will comment on the (...)

The EU Court of Justice rules that the concept of undertaking and the principle of economic continuity apply in private enforcements cases as in public enforcement proceedings (Vantaan kaupunki / Skanska Industrial Solutions)
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
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Hogan Lovells (Munich)
Introduction The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) issued a landmark decision on 14 March 2019 concerning the application of the concept of “undertaking” and the principle of economic continuity to cartel damages claims. The ECJ ruled in its Skanska judgement that the broad interpretation of the (...)

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 / NBC Universal / 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 Danish Competition Authority fines several plumbing companies and three managers for bid rigging (Christoffersen & Knudsen)
Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (Copenhagen)
Plumbing company and management members from several plumbing companies pay fines in settlements for bid rigging* The plumbing company Christoffersen & Knudsen A/S and three members from the management in this and two other plumbing companies have entered into settlements with the Danish (...)

The EU Commission accepts final commitments in a cross-border access to pay-TV case (Disney / NBC Universal / Sony Pictures / Warner Bros / Sky)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
According to a press release issued on 7 March 2019, the European Commission (“Commission”) has formally accepted the commitments offered by Disney, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky in Case 40.023, Cross-border access to pay-TV, under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. The (...)

The Jerusalem District Court sentences to imprisonment a member of a tree-pruning cartel following a joint investigation of the Competition Authority and the National Fraud Investigations Unit (Zohar Katz)
Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA)
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced a member of the tree-pruning cartel to 11 months’ imprisonment* The Jerusalem District Court (Judge A. Rubin) sentenced today (Wed.) the defendant Zohar Katz to 11 months’ imprisonment, a fine of NIS 100,000 and forfeiture of an additional sum of NIS (...)

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 EU Commission imposes fines totalling € 368 million on car safety equipment suppliers in cartel settlement decision (Takata / Autoliv / TRW)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 March 2019, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced that it had imposed total fines of € 368,277,000 on two car safety equipment suppliers, Autoliv and TRW, for their involvement in two cartels concerning the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to European car (...)

The Finnish Competition Authority suspects several taxi dispatch centres of illegal restrictions on competition
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (Helsinki)
FCCA suspects several taxi dispatch centres of illegal restrictions on competition* Investigations by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) have found that dispatch centres may have acted in breach of the Competition Act by discriminating in the dispatch of Kela-reimbursed (...)

The Hellenic Competition Authority fines several construction companies for bid-rigging in the public works of infrastructure (Alpine Bau)
Hellenic Competition Authority (Athens)
Decision no.647/4.7.2017 of the Competition Commission on ex officio investigation into tenders concerning large projects of infrastructure for violation of Αrticles 1 of Law 703/77, 1 Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU, regarding the undertakings that have not been placed under the Settlement (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Croatian Competition Authority finds no abuse of market power from a dominant company in the food supply sector (Zagrebačka pivovara)
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
Lack of standing to act against Zagrebačka pivovara* On 1 June 2018 the Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) received an anonymous complaint regarding the alleged anti-competitive practices of Zagrebačka pivovara in the sense of abuse of the dominant position in the market, including the allegedly (...)

The Italian Competition Authority opens an investigation against several incumbent gas distribution operators suspected to abuse individually of their dominance (Ireti / Italgas Reti / 2i Rete Gas)
Italian Competition Authority (Rome)
Antitrust investigation against Ireti, Italgas Reti and 2i Rete Gas for an alleged abuse of dominant position in the distribution of gas* On 12 March 2019 the ICA (Italian Competition Authority) has opened an investigation to assess whether Ireti Spa, Italgas Reti Spa and 2i Rete Gas Spa - the (...)

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 Adsense)
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 German Competition Authority opens a consultation regarding its draft guidelines for the control of abusive practices in the electricity generation and wholesale trade sector
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Consultation on the control of abusive practices in electricity generation/wholesale trade: Bundeskartellamt and Bundesnetzagentur publish draft guidelines* The Bundeskartellamt and the Bundesnetzagentur are today starting a consultation process on draft guidelines for the control of abusive (...)

The EU Commission fines a company for abusing its dominant position in online advertising (Google Adsens)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 20 March 2019, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced that it had issued a decision imposing a € 1.49 billion fine on Google for breaching Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the Commission, Google abused its dominant position in online (...)

The UK National Competition Authority closes its investigation into an allegedly abusive discount scheme in the pharmaceutical sector (Remicade)
White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
The CMA Remicade decision: discount schemes and abuse of dominance – effects matter!* Summary On 14 March 2019, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided to close its investigation into a discount scheme by Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD). The CMA concluded that there were (...)

The Croatian Competition Authority opens an ex-officio proceeding against a dominant reseller suspected to impose restrictives clauses to its suppliers (Plodine)
Croatian Competition Agency (Zagreb)
CCA opens UTPs infringement proceeding against re-seller PLODINE* The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) opened the infringement proceeding against the undertaking Plodine from Rijeka after having detected one or more unclear and possibly contestable provisions in the contracts concluded (...)

Mergers

The Ankara 9th Administrative Court orders a stay of execution on a port acquisition after Competition Board’s conditional clearance with behavioural remedies (Kumport)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
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ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
Background Limar Liman ve Gemi İşletmeleri A.Ş. (“Limar”), which is controlled by Arkas Holding A.Ş. (“Arkas”) notified to the Turkish Competition Authority (the “Authority”) its acquisition of the sole control over Mardaş Marmara Deniz İşletmeciliği A.Ş. (“Mardaş” or the “Target”) operating the Ambarlı (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the market of distribution of agricultural machinery (Agro / Konekesko Baltic)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves Danish Agro’s acquisition of Konekesko’s Baltic and Finnish agrimachinery businesses, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition by Danish Agro of Konekesko’s agricultural machinery distribution (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in the market of supply of various semi-finished aluminium products (Novelis / Aleris)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Novelis’ proposed acquisition of Aleris* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Aleris by Novelis under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is concerned that the proposed (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority accepts partially a request to lift the remedies imposed to clear a merger in the cinema theatres market (Kinepolis)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Belgian Competition Authority has partially accepted the request of Kinepolis to lift the conditions imposed in 1997 and modified in 2010, as from 25 March 2019* On 31 March 2017 Kinepolis has filed a request to lift the conditions imposed by the Competition Council in 1997 in respect of (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the markets of insurance broking services for specialty sectors and the provision of employee benefits-related services (JLT / MMC)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson by Marsh & McLennan Companies, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson (“JLT”) by Marsh & McLennan Companies (“MMC”). The (...)

The EU Commission conditionally approves a merger in the market for aircraft slat systems (Spirit / Asco)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 20 March 2019, the Commission conditionally approved the acquisition of Asco by Spirit. The Commission was concerned that the deal would reduce competition in the market for aircraft slat systems. These parts allow the wing of an aircraft to operate at a higher ‘angle of attack’, which (...)

The EU Commission refers to the French Competition Authority the examination of a merger in the audiovisual sector (Salto / Métropole Télévision and TF1)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Audiovisual sector* On 18 March 2019, the European Commission referred to the Autorité de la concurrence the examination of the creation of Salto, a joint venture of the France Télévisions, Métropole Télévision and TF1 groups. Salto is intended to offer the free-to-air DTT channels (live broadcast (...)

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 UK Competition and Markets Authority fines a company for failure to comply with initial enforcement order (JLA / Washstation)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 8 March 2019, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) fined JLA £120,000 for failure to comply with an initial enforcement order (“IEO”). Under UK competition law, the CMA may impose an IEO on merging parties to prevent them from taking pre-emptive action which might prejudice 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 (...)

State Aid

The EU Court of Justice holds that funds generated by the EGG surcharge does not constitute State ressources (EEG surcharge)
White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (London)
On Thursday, 28 March, the European Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) annulled the General Court’s ruling and the European Commission’s decision on the EEG 2012 on the grounds that it was wrong to conclude that the funds generated by the EEG surcharge constituted State resources. In (...)

The EU Court of Justice provides guidance on the duty of recovery in case of non-compliance with Block Exemption Regulation (Eesti Pagar)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 March 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “ECJ”) delivered a judgment on a request for preliminary ruling by the Court of Appeal of Tallinn, Estonia, concerning a dispute on certain State aid granted by the Estonian authorities to Eesti Pagar, an Estonian bakery founded in (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice rules on scope of national limitation period in light of Damages Directive (Sport TV)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 March 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) ruled on a preliminary reference from a Portuguese court on the scope of the Portuguese limitation period in light of Directive 2014/104 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the (...)

The UK Competition and Markets Authority issues its first fine on a company for concealing relevant evidence during a dawn raid (Fender Musical Instruments Europe)
Jones Day (London)
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Jones Day (London)
In March 2019, the UK Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") issued its first fine on a company for concealing relevant evidence during a dawn raid, fining Fender Musical Instruments Europe Limited £25,000. This is the latest example of the trend among competition authorities to hold (...)

The EU adopts first foreign direct investment regulation (FDI)
Morgan Lewis (Brussels)
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Morgan Lewis (Brussels)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
The European Parliament adopted a new regulation on March 19 establishing a bloc-wide framework for the screening by EU member states of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the European Union (the FDI Regulation). The FDI Regulation seeks to ensure a consistent framework throughout the (...)

The EU Parliament and Council establish a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union (FDI)
Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Frankfurt)
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Jones Day (Paris)
On 21 March 2019, Regulation (EU) 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union (“FDI Regulation”) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The FDI Regulation (...)

Regulatory

The French Competition Authority issues an opinion on electricity’s regulated retail tariffs
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Electricity tariffs* The Autorité de la concurrence advises against increasing regulated retail tariffs without first clarifying their purpose. Having been informed on 27 February 2019, by the French Minister of the Economy, of the French government’s intention to change the level of the (...)

The EU Council greenlights the regulation on the screening of foreign direct investments into the EU (FDI)
White & Case (Frankfurt)
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White & Case (Dusseldorf)
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White & Case (Frankfurt)
The European Council (“Council”) greenlighted the regulation on the screening of foreign direct investments into the EU (“Regulation”) at the beginning of March. Following its publication in the Official Journal on 21 March 2019, the Regulation will go live 20 days thereafter, i.e. on 10 April (...)

The Chinese National People’s Congress adopts a Foreign Investment Law
AnJie Law (Beijing)
On March 15, 2019, China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress passed the Foreign Investment Law (the “Law”), a landmark legislation that will provide stronger protection and a better business environment for foreign investors. The Law will take effective on January 1, 2020. Upon (...)

Public sector

The Latvian Parliament adopts amendements to the Competition Law granting the Competition Council powers to address competition distortions caused by public administrative bodies
Konkurences padome (Riga)
The Competition Council of Latvia will be able to prevent competition distortions caused by public administrative bodies* On 28 March, the Saeima adopted in the final reading amendments to the Competition Law, which grant the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC) the powers to address (...)

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