Latest News issue: January 2020

Anticompetitive practices

The Spanish Competition Authority opens investigation into potential anticompetitive practices in the maritime transport of passengers and vehicles in the South of Spain (Algeciras / Ceuta) New
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
The Spanish Competition and Markets Authority, CNMC, is investigating whether a number of companies active in maritime transport between Algeciras and Ceuta may be in breach of article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act (‘LDC’) and article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (‘TFEU’). (...)

The French Competition Authority fines meal vouchers issuers for anticompetitive practices taking the form of information exchange, market sharing and price-fixing (Edenred France / Up / Natixis Intertitres / Sodexo Pass France) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence fines the four historical meal vouchers issuers for a total of nearly 415 M€, for anticompetitive practices* Background The Autorité has been informed of anti-competitive practices in the meal vouchers sector by the company Octoplus (Resto Flash), which offers a (...)

The French Competition Authority fines fruit-compote manufacturers for pricing agreement and market sharing (Conserves France / Valade / Délis / Vergers de Chateaubourg / Materne / Andros / Charles Faraud / Charles & Alice) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence hands down fine worth a total of up to 58.3 million euros to the main fruit-compote manufacturers for pricing agreement and market sharing* Background The Autorité publishes today a decision by which it fines a national cartel between the main fruit-compote (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority launches an inquiry in the inter-city bus transport sector in Spain New
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
The CNMC has announced the launch of an inquiry on the competition conditions in the inter-city bus sector in Spain. The first phase of the inquiry includes a public consultation, which aims at obtaining input from operators, regulators, consumers and sector experts. This consultation is (...)

The Court of Appeal of Netherlands finds a subsidiary liable for cartel damage caused by its minority shareholder that had or could have a decisive influence over it (GIS Cartel) New
Maastricht University
In a decision of 26 November 2019, the Court of Appeal Arnhem-Leeuwarden deduced from the Court of Justice’s decision in Skanska that the EU concept undertaking is to be used to determine the entity which is required to provide compensation for damage caused by an infringement of Article 101 (...)

The Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia grants motion to intervene by 12 car manufacturers, supporting government on uniform federal emissions standards, following the announcement of DOJ investigation of four other carmakers (Environmental Defence / National Highway) New
Richard Wolfram, Esq. (New York)
TWELVE OTHER CARMAKERS MOVE TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT ENFORCEMENT OF UNIFORM FEDERAL STANDARDS ON EMISSIONS - WILL THE DOJ INVESTIGATE?* This article follows up on an October 15, 2019 article by the author on a reported investigation by the DOJ Antitrust Division into possible ‘collusion’ by four (...)

The Ukrainian Competition Authority imposes a record-breaking fine totalling € 245.3 million on tobacco companies and their sole ukrainian distributor for concerted practices (Tedis) New
Redcliffe Partners (Kyiv)
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Redcliffe Partners (Kyiv)
In October 2019, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (the "AMC") imposed a record fine on the Ukrainian subsidiaries of four leading international tobacco producers, namely Philip Morris, JTI, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco (the "Tobacco Companies"), and (...)

The Serbian Competition Commission issues its first decision granting an immunity from a fine of € 500,000 to a cartel participant based on a leniency application (Konica Minolta distributors) New
Schoenherr (Belgrade)
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Schoenherr (Belgrade)
Almost 10 years after the introduction of the leniency programme in Serbia, the Commission for Protection of Competition (’Commission’) adopted on 27 of September 2019 the first decision granting immunity from a fine to a cartel participant. This decision brings to life the 2009 statutory (...)

The EU General Court annuls a €33,6 m fine imposed in relation to the Euro Interest Rate Derivatives cartel because of the Commission’s insufficient reasoning on the applied calculation method (HSBC) New
Liège University
In yet another bank cartel case, the EU General Court (“GC” or “the Court”) takes a position consistent with its previous case law as regards the right to defence of the parties and annuls the fine imposed on HSBC due to insufficient reasoning. In addition, the GC assesses the conditions for (...)

Unilateral Practices

The French Competition Authority fines a research engine company for abuse of dominance in the search advertising market (Google) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence hands down a €150M fine for abuse of a dominant position* Google has abused its dominant position in the search advertising market by adopting operating rules of its Google Ads advertising platform which are opaque and difficult to understand and by applying them (...)

Mergers

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the IT services market (Softeam / Le Groupe La Poste) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Softeam by Le Groupe La Poste* On 14 November 2019, Le Groupe La Poste notified the Autorité of its intention to acquire Softeam. This transaction is part of Le Groupe La Poste’s strategy to diversify its activities, resulting in multiple (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies in the biotechnologies market (Danaher / GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ Biopharma Business) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves Danaher’s acquisition of GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ Biopharma Business, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of General Electric’s Healthcare Life Sciences Biopharma Business by Danaher (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation into a proposed merger in the maritime transport market (DSME / HHIH) New
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of DSME by HHIH* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering CO., Ltd (DSME) by another shipbuilding group, Hyundai (...)

The Competition Commission of India invites public comments on a proposed amendment to the Combination Regulations relating to the acquisition of shares pursuant to a public bid or a stock exchange New
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
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Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (Mumbai)
The CCI invited public comments on a proposed amendment to the Combination Regulations relating to the acquisition of shares pursuant to a public bid or on a stock exchange. At present, such an acquisition cannot, where it qualifies as a notifiable transaction, be completed until CCI clearance (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the food retail market (Casino / Capdis / Holding Mag Spring) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence authorises Casino to change from joint to sole control of companies Capdis and Holding Mag Spring.* It will now become the sole owner of 198 sales outlets operated jointly until now, under the brand names of its group. On 14 November 2019, Casino notified the (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the luxury perfumes and cosmetic products market (Azzaro / Thierry Mugler / L’Oréal) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the take-over of the perfumes Azzaro and Thierry Mugler and their derived products by L’Oréal Group* On 14 November 2019, L’Oréal Group notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its proposed acquisition of control of the marketing of luxury perfumes and (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the airport management concessions (Toulouse-Blagnac airport / Eiffage) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Toulouse-Blagnac airport by the Eiffage group* On 8 November 2019, the Eiffage group notified the Autorité of its plan to acquire sole control of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport ("ATB"), which operates the Toulouse airport (31). By a decision (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an in-depth investigation into a proposed merger in the petroleum product storage services market (Trapil / Pisto) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence has begun an in-depth examination into the acquisition of Société des Transports Pétroliers par Pipelines (Trapil) by Pisto SAS* Acquisition of France’s largest pipeline On 5 November 2019, Pisto SAS, which is active in the petroleum product storage services (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger subject to remedies in the hearing aids sector (Audilab / Demant) New
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Sale of hearing aids: the Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Audilab by the Demant group, subject to conditions.* Background After an in-depth examination of the hearing aids sector in its 2016 sector-wide inquiry and having made several recommendations aiming to ensure its (...)

The French Competition Authority clears two separate mergers concerning companies belonging to the same group in the transport sector (Capelle / AltéAd Marchal Levage and Mediaco-Capelle / AltéAd)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears two separate acquisitions but concerning companies belonging to the same group, AltéAd* These decisions are made following the opening of judicial reorganisation proceedings regarding AltéAd. On 25 June 2019, Mediaco Levage and Capelle Investissements (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger between two groups of restaurants chains in the high-end restaurant market (Léon de Bruxelles / Bertrand)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the takeover of Groupe Léon de Bruxelles by Groupe Bertrand (Hippopotamus, Burger King, Lipp, La Coupole, etc.)* On 30 October 2019, Groupe Bertrand notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its plan to take exclusive control of Groupe Léon de Bruxelles. (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the markets for batteries and portable battery chargers (Varta / Energizer)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission approves Varta AG’s acquisition of Energizer’s divestment business, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, Varta AG as a suitable purchaser of assets divested by Energizer in order to acquire Spectrum Brands’ batteries and (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority imposes a fine on a fruit-wholesaler for gun-jumping (Nufri) New
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
NUFRI, Sociedad Agraria de Transformación, has been fined by the CNMC for implementing a merger prior to its notification. In the beginning of the year, NUFRI acquired fruit-based products’ manufacturer Grupo Indulleida. The transaction was only pre-notified on 15 April 2019 and, subsequently, (...)

State Aid

The EU Court of Justice dismisses an appeal by the beneficiary of an aid concluding that the preferential electricy tariff constituted incompatible State aid (Mytilinaios) New
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 Court of Justice provides a preliminary ruling relating to a dispute between several electricity and hydroelectricity producers concerning a tax on the use of inland waters for the production of electricity (UNESA) New
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 Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announces the intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market New
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 9 December 2019, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announced the Commission’s intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law (‘the Notice’). The Notice dates back from 1997 and (...)

The French Competition Authority can access the data of electronic communication operators in order to investigate anticompetitive practices
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence will now be able to access the data of electronic communication operators* The PACTE Law for the Growth and Transformation of Companies of 22 May 2019, has given the Autorité de la concurrence new power to investigate anticompetitive practices. The law now allows (...)

The Supreme People’s Court of China clears its stance on arbitration clauses and states that the jurisdiction of Chinese courts over antitrust civil disputes cannot be excluded New
AnJie Law (Beijing)
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AnJie Law (Beijing)
CHINA’S SUPREME COURT ENUNCIATED THE NON-ARBITRABILITY OF ANTITRUST CIVIL DISPUTES* For a few years, the topic of whether antitrust civil disputes could be arbitrable had been hotly debated in China. There were few precedents in connection with this issue for people to better understand what (...)

Regulatory

The French Competition Authority issues two maps regarding the establishment of court bailiffs and judicial auctioneers
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Freedom of establishment for court bailiffs and judicial auctioneers* The process of progressively opening up the two professions, which are scheduled to merge into the new profession of commissioner of justice in 2022, is producing encouraging results and should continue. Pursuant to the (...)

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