September 2021

General antitrust

The EU Commission launches a public consultation on the reform of pharmaceutical legislation
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 28 September 2021, the European Commission (the Commission) launched a public consultation that probes for stakeholders’ views on the reform of the pharmaceutical regulatory framework. The consultation will run until 21 December 2021 and marks a new milestone in a long-running debate (...)

The EU Commission sheds light on the relationship between competition policy and the Green Deal objectives
Herbert Smith Freehills (Brussels)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Brussels)
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Herbert Smith Freehills (Dusseldorf)
On 10 September 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) published a competition policy brief in which it provides more detail on its policy approach in its upcoming sustainability guidance. Following a call for contributions last year and a conference bringing together relevant stakeholders (...)

The Austrian Government amends the Cartel and Competition Act introducing new rules on merger control and digital platforms
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Vienna)
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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Vienna)
Earlier this month, an extensive amendment of the Austrian Cartel Act came into force. The changes relate to merger control (thresholds and substantive review), digital platforms and the role of sustainability in competition law. In this blog post, we focus on the changes to the merger control (...)

The German Competition Authority publishes the final report on its sector inquiry into hospitals
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Final report on the sector inquiry into hospitals: Merger control guarantees competition and quality* Today the Bundeskartellamt has published the final report on its sector inquiry into German hospitals. The outcome of the inquiry confirms the important role played by competition in ensuring (...)

Anticompetitive practices

The EU General Court maintains the fines imposed by the Commission on several undertakings for their participation in a cartel on the market for aluminum and tantalum electrolytic capacitors (NEC / Nichicon / Tokin / Rubycon / Nippon Chemi-Con)
DG COMP (Brussels)
The General Court maintains the fines imposed by the Commission on several undertakings by reason of their participation in a cartel on the market for aluminium electrolytic capacitors and tantalum electrolytic capacitors * By decision of 21 March 2018 [1], the Commission imposed a total fine (...)

The New Zealand High Court imposes a $150K penalty for taxi cartel conduct for pick-up trips from Wellington Airport (Hutt / City Taxis)
New Zealand Commerce Commission (Wellington)
Penalty imposed for taxi cartel conduct* The High Court has ordered Hutt and City Taxis Limited (Hutt & City) to pay a penalty of $150,000 in relation to fixing the prices of taxi fares. Statement of Preliminary Issues released on EROAD/Coretex clearance application The Commission filed (...)

The US FTC reaches proposed settlement with a State dental licensing agency to charges that it unreasonably excluded lower-cost online and teledentistry providers from competition (Alabama Board of Dental Examiners)
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
Alabama Board of Dental Examiners Agrees to Settle FTC Charges that It Unreasonably Excluded Lower Cost Online and Teledentistry Providers from Competition* To settle FTC charges that its actions violated the antitrust laws, the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama has agreed to stop requiring (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority resolves its penalty proceedings against an industrial equipment supplier for potential restrictions on passive sales and retail-price maintenance agreements (Maquinaria Garrido)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC resolves its penalty proceedings against Maquinaria Garrido S.L. through traditional enforcement* With this type of remedy, the alleged offender offers certain binding conditions which, if accepted by the Commission, enables it to avoid paying a fine. The CNMC investigates the terms (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority imposes fines totaling €161.855 on four file and document management service companies for bid rigging (Bibliodoc Servicios Documentales / Pandora Gestión Documental / Libnova / Salomé Lendínez Ramírez)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC imposes fines on several file and document management service companies for bid-rigging* These practices were conducted via several cartels between 2016 and 2019. Spain’s Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Development and the Reina Sofia National Art Centre were among the public (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority publishes a final report and best practices guide on anticompetitive agreements in the labor market
Portuguese Competition Authority (Lisbon)
The AdC publishes final Report and Best Practices Guide on anticompetitive agreements in the labor market* The AdC publishes final Report and Best Practices Guide on anticompetitive agreements in the labor market The Competition Authority has published the final version of the Report and Best (...)

The Russian Competition Authority and Federal Tax Service check prices in the construction materials markets and find a significant increase in financial indicators in several markets
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS AND FEDERAL TAX SERVICE CHECK PRICES IN THE CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS MARKETS* Based on the results of joint work, a significant increase in financial indicators was revealed in a number of markets Due to the increase in prices for building materials in 2021 and a large number of incoming (...)

The US FTC and DoJ issue joint statement to preserve competition in post-hurricane relief efforts
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department Issue Joint Statement to Preserve Competition in Post-Hurricane Relief Efforts* The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division today issued a joint statement detailing antitrust guidance for businesses taking part (...)

The US FTC streamlines consumer protection and competition investigations in eight key enforcement areas to enable higher caseload
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Streamlines Consumer Protection and Competition Investigations in Eight Key Enforcement Areas to Enable Higher Caseload* Agency to Focus on Service Members and Veterans; Children; Algorithmic and Biometric Bias; Deceptive and Manipulative Conduct on the Internet; and Repair Restrictions; (...)

The US DoJ and FTC issue joint statement to preserve competition in post-hurricane relief efforts
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Issue Joint Statement to Preserve Competition in Post-Hurricane Relief Efforts* The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today issued a joint statement detailing antitrust guidance for businesses taking (...)

The Australian Competition Authority grants interim authorization to medicine wholesalers to continue to cooperate in providing fair and efficient access to essential medication and pharmacy products as the COVID-19 pandemic continues Free
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Medicine wholesalers to continue to co-operate on COVID-19 response* The ACCC has granted interim authorization to medicine wholesalers to continue to co-operate in providing fair and efficient access to essential medication and pharmacy products as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The new (...)

The Australian Competition Authority proposes to authorize a national union of commercial radio broadcasters to collectively bargain with two Big Tech companies (Commercial Radio Australia / Google / Facebook)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC proposes to authorise Commercial Radio Australia to collectively bargain with Google and Facebook* The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google over payment for their member stations’ (...)

The French Competition Authority fines several players in the road freight transport sector €500K for boycotting digital intermediation platforms (H2P / Astre / Tred Union / Evolutrans...)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence fines several players in the road freight transport sector for boycotting digital intermediation platforms* Background The Autorité opened an investigation following a referral from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (DGCCRF), followed by dawn raids in 2018. (...)

The Brazilian Competition Authority issues practical guidelines to help officials prevent and detect anticompetitive practices in public procurement
Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) (Brasilia)
CADE launches practical guidelines to help procurement officials prevent and detect cartels in public procurement* The documents lists strategies of collusion between companies, red flags of collusive conduct, and recommendations on how to prevent these unlawful practices in tenders On 3 (...)

The US DoJ indicts a commercial flooring executive for a money laundering charge as part of a long-running bid-rigging investigation (Michael Zmijewski)
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Commercial Flooring Executive Indicted on Money Laundering Charge as Part of a Long-Running Bid Rigging Investigation* A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois returned a one-count indictment charging Michael Zmijewski for his role in a money laundering conspiracy involving (...)

The Australian Competition Authority announces that a bathroomware company admitted to likely resale price maintenance (Nero Bathrooms)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Bathroomware brand Nero admits to likely resale price maintenance* Bathroomware brand, Nero Bathrooms International Pty Ltd, trading as Nero Tapware, has admitted it was likely to have engaged in resale price maintenance by withholding supply of its products from a small independent building (...)

The New Zealand Competition Authority authorizes a company to engage in resale price maintenance to its proposed online stores and marketplaces (HP)
New Zealand Commerce Commission (Wellington)
Commerce Commission issues determination on HP New Zealand’s application to engage in resale price maintenance* The Commerce Commission has authorized HP New Zealand Limited (HP) to engage in resale price maintenance (RPM) in relation to its proposed HP online stores and HP online marketplace (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Australian Competition Authority reports a standstill in the domestic airline industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and cautions airports against using their market power to try to recoup losses after the pandemic through excessive prices Free
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
COVID restrictions bring domestic airline industry to a standstill* Travel restrictions as a result of the recent COVID-19 Delta outbreaks have brought the majority of domestic flying to a stop and delivered a significant blow to the local airline industry, the ACCC’s latest Airline Competition (...)

The Australian Competition Authority publishes a report on advertising technology and identifies significant competition concerns namely due to a Big Tech company’s dominance of the sector (Google)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Google’s dominance in ad tech supply chain harms businesses and consumers* An ACCC inquiry into the advertising technology (or ‘ad tech’) sector has identified significant competition concerns and likely harms to publishers, advertisers, and, ultimately, consumers. The report, published today, (...)

The EU Commission approves Greek commitments to remove the distortion created by the state-owned electricity provider’s exclusive access to lignite-fired generation (PPC)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission approves Greek measures to increase access to electricity for PPC’s competitors* The European Commission has made legally binding, under EU antitrust rules, measures proposed by Greece to allow the competitors of Public Power Corporation (PPC), the Greek state-owned (...)

The EU Commission approves Greek commitments requiring the state-owned electricity incumbent to maintain a fixed net seller position for electricity baseload futures on certain energy exchanges to address competition concerns (PPC)
Ashurst (Brussels)
The European Commission accepted commitments from Greece requiring Public Power Corporation (PPC), the state-owned electricity incumbent, to maintain a fixed net seller position for electricity baseload futures on certain energy exchanges in order to address competition concerns raised by (...)

The Japanese FTC closes the investigation against a Big Tech company for allegedly restricting business activities of digital app developers on its app store after the company agreed to update the store’s guidelines, including on payment methods and app review process (Apple)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
Closing the Investigation on the Suspected Violation of the Antimonopoly Act by Apple Inc.* The Japan Fair Trade Commission (hereinafter referred to as the “JFTC”) has investigated Apple Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “Apple”) in accordance with the provisions of the Antimonopoly Act since (...)

Mergers

The US Surface Transportation Board confirms its earlier approval of a voting trust in a proposed merger between a Canadian and an American railroad in their revised merger application (CP / KCS)
Commonwealth Secretariat (London)
Introduction It is full steam ahead with likely no further detours for Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (‘CP’) and Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (‘KCS’). The US Surface Transportation Board (‘STB’ or ‘the Board’) confirmed on 30 September 2021 that its prior approval of a voting trust as a first step (...)

The French Competition Authority unconditionally clears a merger between two retail clothing shops (Caroll / Beaumanoir)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Caroll by Beaumanoir* The Beaumanoir Group notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its plan to acquire all the Caroll shops located in France. Parties to the transaction The Beaumanoir Group owns clothes shops in France and abroad, (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority conditionally clears in Phase II the merger of three funeral homes (Mémora / Rekalde / Irache)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC approves Mémora’s acquisition of the Rekalde and Irache funeral homes, with commitments* The acquisitions affect the Basque Country and Navarre funeral services markets. The transaction was cleared in Phase 2, contingent on fulfilment of certain commitments by Mémora not to affect (...)

The UK Government proposes to accept revised national security undertakings offered under the acquisition of a telecommunications equipment company by a Chinese radio manufacturer to ensure maintenance of the TETRA Airwave Network used by national emergency services (Sepura / Hytera)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Acquisition of Sepura plc by Hytera Communications Corporation Limited: revised national security undertakings* Consultation description The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, announced on 28 September 2021 that he is proposing to accept (...)

The German Competition Authority prohibits the complete acquisition of the publishing companies of the daily newspaper by media company publishing a competing newspaper (Ostthüringer / Funke)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt prohibits complete acquisition of publisher of “Ostthüringer Zeitung” by Funke-Mediengruppe* The Bundeskartellamt has prohibited a company of Funke Mediengruppe from acquiring the sole control of the publishing companies of the daily newspaper “Ostthüringer Zeitung”. Funke (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority authorizes two concentrations in the banking and insurance sectors related to a previously approved merger (Bankia / Caixabank)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC has authorized two concentrations in phase 1 without commitments related to the CAIXABANK/BANKIA merger approved on 23 March 2021 (See Spanish Competition Authority, The Spanish Competition Authority clears a merger between the third and fourth-largest banks in the country subject to (...)

The US FTC requests a public comment on the application of an electric services company to modify its final order related to a natural gas joint venture (Nexus Gas Transmission / DTE Energy)
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Requests Public Comment on DTE Energy Company’s Application to Modify Final Order Settling Competition Concerns Related to Natural Gas Joint Venture* The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a petition by DTE Energy Company to reopen and modify the FTC’s 2019 order, which (...)

The EU General Court dismisses a French telecommunications company’s action against the Commission’s decision to impose two fines totaling €124.5 million in connection to its acquisition of a Portuguese competitor (Altice / PT Portugal)
General Court of the European Union (Luxembourg)
The General Court dismisses Altice Europe’s action against the Commission decision imposing two fines totalling €124.5 million in connection with the acquisition of PT Portugal* However, it orders the amount of the fine relating to the breach of the obligation to notify the concentration to the (...)

The EU General Court upholds the Commission’s decision to fine a telecommunications company for gun jumping but grants a limited 5% reduction of part of the €124.5 million fine imposed (Altice / PT Portugal)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
On September 22, 2021, the European General Court issued its judgment upholding the decision by the European Commission (Commission) to fine Altice for gun-jumping in the acquisition of Portugal Telecom (PT) in 2015. The General Court did grant Altice a limited 5% reduction of part of the €124.5 (...)

The EU General Court upholds a decision from the Commission sanctioning a telecommunications operator for gun jumping and clarifies in its decision the applicable rules for gun jumping (Altice / PT Portugal)
McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
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On September 22, 2021, the EU General Court (GC) upheld a decision from the European Commission (Commission) by which it fined telecommunications operator Altice for gun jumping (T-425/18, Altice Europe v Commission). In particular, the GC affirmed that the Commission could impose two separate (...)

The US DoJ sues to block unprecedented alliance between two airline companies (American Airlines / JetBlue)
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Justice Department Sues to Block Unprecedented Domestic Alliance Between American Airlines and JetBlue* Alliance Eliminates Competition in New York and Boston and Harms Air Travelers Nationwide The U.S. Department of Justice, together with Attorneys General in six states and the District of (...)

The Australian Competition Authority authorizes two national healthcare companies to form and operate a health services buying group (Honeysuckle / Nib Health Funds)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Honeysuckle Health, nib buying group authorised with condition* The ACCC has authorised Honeysuckle Health and nib Health Funds (ASX: NHF) to form and operate a health services buying group. The authorisation has been granted with a condition that major insurers Medibank, Bupa, HCF and HBF in (...)

The EU Commission raises the stakes by issuing a statement of objections against a healthcare company in which it threatens to adopt interim measures to prevent potentially irreparable damage on competition (Grail / Illumina)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
Less than a month ago, the European Commission (the Commission) announced that it would open an investigation to determine whether Illumina’s decision to acquire Grail pending its review of that transaction under Regulation 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the (...)

The EU Commission announces interim measures following a breach of the standstill obligation between two healthcare companies specialized in genomic sequencing (Grail / Illumina)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: The Commission adopts a Statement of Objections in view of adopting interim measures following Illumina’s early acquisition of GRAIL* The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Illumina and GRAIL informing them of the interim measures it intends to adopt following (...)

The Australian Competition Authority launches an investigation into a proposed merger between three meat and food processing companies (JBS / Rivalea / Oxdale Dairy)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
JBS’ proposed acquisition of Rivalea raises preliminary competition concerns* The ACCC has outlined its preliminary competition concerns about JBS Australia Pty Ltd’s (JBS) proposed acquisition of Rivalea Holdings Pty Ltd and Oxdale Dairy Enterprise Pty Ltd (together, Rivalea) in a statement of (...)

The US FTC withdraws vertical merger guidelines to prevent industrial and judicial reliance on unsound economic theories
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
Federal Trade Commission Withdraws Vertical Merger Guidelines and Commentary* 2020 guidance withdrawn to prevent industry and judicial reliance on unsound economic theories; FTC to work with DOJ to update merger guidance The Federal Trade Commission voted to withdraw its approval of the (...)

The US FTC publishes a report summarizing findings from a study of unreported Big Tech acquisitions
Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Hogan Lovells (Washington)
On 15 September 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published findings from its retrospective study of the non-reported acquisitions by five large technology companies from 2010-2019 (the Report). Focusing on 616 transactions valued at above US$1 million, the Commissioners noted four key (...)

The US FTC votes to withdraw its approval of the vertical merger guidelines with no plans to replace it
Morgan Lewis (Washington)
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Morgan Lewis (Washington)
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Morgan Lewis (Philadelphia)
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently voted to withdraw its approval of the Vertical Merger Guidelines (the 2020 VMGs), which, as we covered in the past, the FTC and Department of Justice (DOJ) issued over a year ago on June 30, 2020. The vote on September 15, 2021 to rescind the (...)

The US FTC votes to rescind the vertical merger guidelines issued jointly with the DoJ
Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Hogan Lovells (Washington)
On 15 September 2021 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held its third open meeting under the leadership of Chair Lina Khan. As expected, the Commissioners voted along party lines to rescind the Vertical Merger Guidelines (2020 VMGs) that were jointly issued by the FTC and Department of (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an in-depth investigation into the merger of two national furniture stores (Conforama / But)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Takeover of Conforama France by the Mobilux Group (BUT): the Autorité opens an in-depth examination* The Mobilux Group (hereinafter "Mobilux"), which controls the But group, notified the Autorité de la concurrence of the acquisition of sole control of 172 Conforama and Confo! stores after the (...)

The US DoJ issues a statement following the FTC’s vote to withdraw from the vertical merger guidelines
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Justice Department Issues Statement on the Vertical Merger Guidelines* Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division issued the following statement today after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to withdraw from the 2020 Vertical Merger (...)

The US FTC presents a report on nearly a decade of unreported acquisitions by Big Tech companies
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Staff Presents Report on Nearly a Decade of Unreported Acquisitions by the Biggest Technology Companies* Report analyzes acquisitions by Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft At an open Commission meeting today, the Federal Trade Commission staff presented findings from (...)

The Australian Competition Authority finds that the proposed coordination of Japanese and Australian flights between two airlines is not in the public interest (Qantas / Japan Airlines)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC finds Qantas and Japan Airlines alliance not in the public interest* The ACCC has denied authorisation for Qantas (ASX:QAN) and Japan Airlines to coordinate flights between Australia and Japan under the terms of a joint business agreement. The ACCC found that the agreement would likely (...)

The French Competition Authority conditionally clears the acquisition by a food distributor of 100 stores previously owned by a competitor and for the first time recognizes the existence of a market for organic products (Bio c’ Bon / Carrefour)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Conditionnal green light to the acquisition of 100 Bio c’ Bon stores by Carrefour* For the first time, the Autorité has recognized the existence of a market for organic products The Autorité clears the takeover of 100 Bio c’Bon stores by Carrefour, subject to the divestiture of eight stores On (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority approves after a Phase II investigation the terms and conditions of a merger in the funeral services market (Santa Lucía / Funespaña)
Spanish Competition Authority (Madrid)
The CNMC approves the terms and conditions of Santa Lucía’s acquisition of virtually all the assets of Funespaña, Mapfre Group’s funeral plan provider* The transaction affects the funeral services and prepaid funeral plan sectors. Authorisation is contingent on compliance with four terms and (...)

The Australian Competition Authority announces its concerns about a proposed merger between two plagiarism softwares (Turnitin / Ouriginal)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
Preliminary concerns about anti-plagiarism software merger* The ACCC has preliminary competition concerns with Turnitin’s proposed acquisition of Ouriginal. Turnitin and Ouriginal are international providers of anti-plagiarism software, primarily overlapping in the supply of this software to (...)

The Australian Competition Authority clears a payment systems merger after accepting a court-enforceable undertaking offered by the parties (BPAY / eftpos / NPPA)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Canberra)
ACCC authorises payment systems merger after undertaking* The ACCC has authorised the proposed merger of BPAY Group Holding Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries (together, BPAY), eftpos Payments Australia Ltd (eftpos) and NPP Australia Ltd (NPPA), after accepting a court-enforceable undertaking (...)

The UK Competition Authority finds that the merger between a national music distributor and a Japanese technology company raises competition concerns (Awal / Sony)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Sony’s purchase of AWAL raises competition concerns* The CMA has found that Sony’s completed purchase of AWAL raises competition concerns, following a Phase 1 investigation. Deal could lead to worse terms for artists and less innovation in the music sector The music industry is evolving, with (...)

The UK Competition Authority prepares a report on the merger between a material manufacturer and a telecommunications company in light of a public interest intervention notice issued over the proposed acquisition (Perpetuus / Taurus)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Public interest intervention notice issued over proposed acquisition of The Perpetuus Group by Taurus International Ltd and others* A notice was issued today relating to the proposed acquisition of The Perpetuus Group by Taurus International Ltd and others. On 5 September, acting on official (...)

The UK Competition Authority reassesses a merger in the activewear sector and provisionally finds that it raises competition concerns (JD Sports / Footasylum)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
Competition concerns remain over JD Sports merger* The CMA has provisionally found JD Sports’ takeover of Footasylum could lead to a worse deal for shoppers, after reassessing the merger. Following the CMA’s final decision to block the merger between JD Sports and Footasylum in May 2020, JD (...)

The US DoJ requires divestitures for a proposed merger between two banks (BancorpSouth Bank / Cadence Bank)
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Justice Department Requires Divestitures in BancorpSouth Bank’s Merger with Cadence Bank* Divestiture of Seven Mississippi Branches will Protect Consumers in Rural Communities and Small Towns The Department of Justice announced today that BancorpSouth Bank and Cadence Bank have agreed to sell (...)

The US DoJ announces the fining of a Wall Street bank CEO for gun-jumping (Richard Fairbank / Capital One)
US Department of Justice (Washington)
Capital One CEO to Pay Civil Penalty for Violating Antitrust Pre-Transaction Notification Requirements* The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, at the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, (...)

The US FTC fines the CEO of a Wall Street bank for repeatedly violating antitrust laws by illegally finalizing stock acquisitions (Capital One / Richard Fairbank)
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Washington)
FTC Fines Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank for Repeatedly Violating Antitrust Laws* On multiple occasions, Wall Street banker failed to comply with federal antitrust laws when he illegally finalized stock acquisitions Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Richard Fairbank, CEO of (...)

The French Competition Authority conditionally clears an acquisition between two suppliers specialized in the trade-in wood and panels for construction professionals (Panofrance / Distribution Matériaux Bois-Panneaux)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Wood and panel trade: the Autorité conditionally clears the acquisition of Panofrance (Chausson Matériaux) by Distribution Matériaux Bois-Panneaux (Saint-Gobain)* On 6 July 2021, Distribution Matériaux Bois-Panneaux (DMBP) notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its plan to acquire control of (...)

The German Competition Authority clears a magazine publisher’s plans to participate in the joint venture with a distribution company (MZV / Klambt)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt clears Klambt’s participation in MZV* The Bundeskartellamt has cleared plans by the magazine publisher Klambt to participate in the joint venture MZV Moderner Zeitschriften-Vertrieb previously controlled by FUNKE Mediengruppe and Burda. The authority specifically examined the (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission consults Member States on a draft proposal to prolong the State aid Temporary Framework and to extend its scope with the intended aim of further accelerating economic recovery for businesses still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic Free
Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
On 30 September 2021, the Commission launched its consultation with Member States on a draft proposal to prolong the State aid Temporary Framework until 30 June 2022 and to extend its scope with the intended aim of further accelerating economic recovery. The Temporary Framework, to recall, was (...)

The EU Commission in two separate decisions clears Italian public support for a ferry service and closes the investigation on another ferry service that has since been put into liquidation (Laziomar) (Saremar)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission clears Italian public support for Laziomar ferry service; closes investigation concerning support to Saremar* The European Commission has concluded that the public service compensation granted since 2011 to Laziomar S.p.A. (‘Laziomar’) for the operation of ferry services in (...)

The EU Commission sends a draft proposal to Member States on the future of the State aid Temporary Framework Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
Commission Statement on consulting Member States on proposal on the future of the State aid Temporary Framework* Today, the European Commission has sent to Member States for consultation a draft proposal to prolong until 30 June 2022 the State aid Temporary Framework, while setting out the (...)

The EU Commission approves the 2022-2027 regional aid map for Poland
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves 2022-2027 regional aid map for Poland* The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules Poland’s map for granting regional aid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027, within the framework of the revised Regional aid Guidelines (“RAG”). The revised (...)

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves amendments to the Norwegian compensation scheme for organizers of canceled or downscaled cultural events due to the COVID-19 pandemic Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
COVID-19 pandemic: ESA approves amendments to Norwegian compensation scheme for organisers of cancelled or downscaled cultural events* The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved the renewal of a Norwegian scheme to compensate organisers and subcontractors for losses related to (...)

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves amendments to a Norwegian compensation scheme for businesses suffering financial losses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
COVID-19 pandemic: ESA approves amendments to Norwegian compensation scheme for businesses suffering financial losses* The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved changes to a Norwegian support scheme for businesses seeking compensation for COVID-19-related financial difficulties. (...)

The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s decisions that an arbitration award setting an allegedly preferential tariff for electricity does not involve the granting of an advantage to an aluminum producer (Mytilinaios)
General Court of the European Union (Luxembourg)
The General Court annuls the decisions by which the Commission found that an arbitration award setting an allegedly preferential tariff for electricity did not involve the granting of an advantage to the aluminium producer Mytilinaios* The Commission was required to examine diligently, (...)

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves a renewal of temporary amendments to Norwegian tax refund scheme for seafarers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
COVID-19 pandemic: ESA approves renewal of temporary amendments to Norwegian tax refund scheme for seafarers* The EFTA Surveillance Authority has today approved the renewal of temporary amendments to a Norwegian aid scheme granting tax refunds to shipping companies aimed at off-setting the (...)

The EU Commission approves an award of slots at the Paris-Orly airport to a low-cost airline company in the context of its competitor’s recapitalisation due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Vueling / Air France) Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves award of slots at Paris-Orly airport to Vueling in context of Air France’s recapitalisation* The European Commission has ranked Vueling first among the air carriers that have applied for the portfolio of up to 18 daily slots at Paris-Orly airport. These will be (...)

The EU Court of Justice upholds the Commission’s decision finding that the Belgian tax rulings regarding excess profits qualify as a State aid scheme (Magnetrol International)
Ashurst (Brussels)
On 16 September 2021, the ECJ handed down its much awaited judgment on whether the Belgian tax rulings concerning excess profits could be classified as an aid scheme (as opposed to individual aid measures). The ECJ set aside the General Court’s judgment and backed the European Commission’s (...)

The EU Court of Justice upholds the judgment of the General Court that Czech measures for the support of renewable sources of energy constitute State aid (FVE Holýšov)
Maastricht University
Legitimate Expectations and the “Right” to State Aid* Introduction As the process of transition to green economy accelerates, Member States have been reducing the subsidies they promised to grant to the early investors in the production of electricity from renewable sources of energy [RES]. (...)

The EU Commission approves a 2022-2027 regional aid map for Hungary
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves 2022-2027 regional aid map for Hungary* The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules Hungary’s map for granting regional aid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027. The Hungarian regional aid map is among the first maps approved by the Commission (...)

The EU Commission approves a 2022-2027 regional aid map for Slovakia
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves 2022-2027 regional aid map for Slovakia* The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules Slovakia’s map for granting regional aid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027. The Slovak regional aid map is among the first maps approved by the Commission (...)

The EFTA Surveillance Authority approves a production grant scheme for private media outlets in Iceland in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic Free
EFTA Surveillance Authority (Brussels)
ESA approves production grant scheme for private media outlets in Iceland* The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved a grant scheme for private media outlets in Iceland. The scheme aims to improve operating conditions and strengthen the media’s role in providing factual (...)

The EU Commission approves a €3 billion French scheme to provide debt and capital support to companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic Free
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission approves €3 billion French scheme to provide debt and capital support to companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak* The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, French plans to set up a €3 billion fund that will invest through debt, hybrid and equity (...)

The EU Commission concludes after an in-depth investigation that Italian loans worth €900 million granted to a national airline are illegal aid (Alitalia)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission concludes Italian loans worth €900 million to Alitalia are illegal aid* The European Commission has concluded that two State loans for an amount of €900 million, granted by Italy to Alitalia in 2017, are illegal under EU State aid rules. Italy must therefore recover the (...)

The EU Commission finds that a new Italian airline company is not an economic successor and therefore is not liable to repay an illegal State aid received by another national air carrier (ITA / Alitalia)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: Commission finds new air carrier ITA is not Alitalia’s economic successor and Italy’s capital injections into ITA are market conform* The European Commission has found that Italia Trasporto Aereo S.p.A. (“ITA”) is not the economic successor of Alitalia and, hence, it is not liable to (...)

The EU Commission finds that Denmark and Sweden need to recover €66 million of incompatible aid resulting from two capital injections granted to a postal company (PostNord / Post Danmark)
DG COMP (Brussels)
State aid: €314.6 million capital injection from PostNord to Post Danmark does not constitute State aid; Denmark and Sweden need to recover €66 million of incompatible aid from PostNord* The European Commission has found that an internal capital injection of DKK 2.34 billion (approximately (...)

The EU Court of Justice rules that the Commission must re-examine whether the sale of a motorsports association entails a grant of State Aid (Ja zum Nürburgring / NeXovation)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
The Commission must re-examine whether the sale of the Nürburgring in 2014 entailed a grant of State aid* In the same year, it wrongly ruled out the presence of doubts as to the possible existence of an advantage conferred on the buyer and decided not to open a formal investigation procedure (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice AG Bobek proposes to include protected legal interests within the threefold conditions for the ne bis in idem principle thereby allowing the Belgian Competition Authority to pursue a fine against a postal incumbent which had already been fined by its sectoral regulator (bpost / Nordzuck)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 2 September 2021, Advocate General (AG) Bobek delivered his opinion in case C-117/20, bpost SA v. Autorité belge de la Concurrence, on the conditions of application of the ne bis in idem principle, pursuant to which one cannot be tried or punished for an infringement for which one has already (...)

EU Court of Justice AG Bobek proposes a unified test for the protection against double jeopardy (ne bis in idem) under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (bpost / Nordzuck)
European Court of Justice (Luxembourg)
Advocate General Bobek proposes a unified test for the protection against double jeopardy (ne bis in idem) under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights* That test should rely on a threefold identity: of the offender; of the relevant facts; and of the protected legal interest A Belgian and an (...)

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