INTERNATIONAL : GERMAN MERGER CONTROL - FEDERAL CARTEL OFFICE - CASE-LAW - GERMAN COURTS - TRANSACTION - “DE MINIMIS MARKET” EXEMPTION - PREVENTATIVE CHARACTER - GERMAN MERGER CONTROL - IMPLEMENTATION - FEDERAL CARTEL OFFICE - POST-COMPLETION “NOTIFICATIONS” OF OPERATIONS - DOMINANT POSITION - FEDERAL CARTEL OFFICE - ECONOMIC SECTOR - CONCENTRATION.

Germany: Recent developments in merger control

The purpose of this article is to highlight the main rules of German merger control in light of the recent decisional practice of the Federal Cartel Office and the case-law of the German courts. Firstly, we will show that German merger control law is applied very widely in practice (for example the notion of “concentration” is deemed to cover a wide range of transactions and the currently applicable turnover thresholds are particularly low, even to the extent that they can be reached by one party to the transaction on its own) but also show why a reduction of notifiable transactions can be expected in the near future. Such a reduction of notifiable transactions can be expected not only because a current bill is seeking to introduce a new turnover threshold relating to a second party to the transaction, but also, albeit to a far lesser extent, because the applicability of the so-called “de minimis market” exemption to German merger control has just been clarified by a court decision. Secondly, we will underline the preventative character of German merger control (for example notifications must be made pre-merger and the parties must suspend implementation of the operation during the authority’s investigation periods), which has recently been re-iterated by both the Federal Cartel Office (which has announced a new and more severe approach towards post-completion “notifications” of operations) and the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (whose decisions show that derogations to the stand-still obligation are rarely granted). Thirdly, we will underline some characteristics of the substantive assessment of concentrations by the Federal Cartel Office. In particular, we will show the extent to which the role played by market shares is a predominant (but not in itself sufficient) factor in the determination of a dominant position and how the Federal Cartel Office is ready to take into account efficiencies resulting from the concentration as well as the particularities of the relevant economic sector concerned by the concentration.

1. En 35 ans d'existence, le régime allemand du contrôle des concentrations jouit d'une forte réputation internationale en raison de son rôle précurseur dans l'Europe d'après-guerre, de son développement et de la place importante qu'occupe l'autorité de concurrence qui en a la charge, le Bundeskartellamt (Office Fédéral des Cartels), dans la vie économique. Les décisions du Bundeskartellamt (aussi bien en matière de cartels, d'abus de position dominante que de contrôle des concentrations) sont régulièrement commentées aussi bien par la presse générale grand public qu'économique. Dans son dernier rapport d'activité publié, relatif aux années 2005 et 2006 , le Bundeskartellamt note que le record du nombre d'opérations lui ayant été notifiées a été battu en 2006 ; avec 1829 notifications survenues cette année,

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Authors

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Berlin)

Quotation

Frank Röhling, Bertrand Guerin, Germany: Recent developments in merger control, December 2008, Concurrences Review N° 4-2008, Art. N° 22103, pp. 174-181

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