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06 October 2016
The Turkish Competition Board recently published a reasoned decision on granting negative clearance for the exchange of information obtained from the Interbank Card Centre (Bankalararası Kart Merkezi AŞ) regarding merchant turnover, pursuant to:
The Turkish Banks Association is a legal entity and professional organisation with public institution status, which all deposit, development and investment banks must join under the Banking Law. The Risk Centre was established within the Turkish Banks Association to:
In its reasoned decision, the Competition Board stated that the information exchange will impact the financial sector. However, it noted that an exact definition of a 'relevant product market' would not be required within the scope of the case. The board defined Turkey as the relevant geographical market.
The Competition Board found that the data which the Risk Centre shares can be assessed under information exchange criteria from a competition law perspective. As stated within the Guidelines on Horizontal Cooperation Agreements, information relating to the following areas is considered to be competitively sensitive:
The board noted that the scope of accessible information on merchant turnover would be limited to:
Further, the Interbank Card Centre would consolidate such information and share it confidentially with the Risk Centre and its members to evaluate merchants' loan requests. The board also considered that:
The Competition Board stated that the analysis of the case focused on whether:
The board found that the Risk Centre is authorised to collect and share relevant data within the scope of the Banking Law through a review of the clauses and opinions requested from the Central Bank of Turkey and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency.
In light of the above, the board stated that powers which might be considered to violate competition law can be granted to associations of undertakings through their own legislation; however, as the relevant decisions and applications fall within the scope of the authority granted to associations of undertakings through specific legislation, they do not violate Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition.
Ultimately, the board granted negative clearance to the sharing of merchant turnover information via the Risk Centre.
In line with previous Competition Board,(1) Council of State(2) and Administrative Court decisions,(3) the board's April 20 2016 decision (16-14/217-94) is one of the precedents which demonstrate that the authority granted to undertakings by law is not subject to review under Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition.
For further information on this topic please contact Gönenç Gürkaynak at ELIG, Attorneys at Law by telephone (+90 212 327 17 24) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The ELIG, Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at www.elig.com.
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