The Competition and Markets Authority can open an investigation and impose initial enforcement orders where it has reasonable grounds to suspect that two or more enterprises have ceased to be distinct. This includes circumstances in which an acquirer purchases only a minority shareholding in the target because, under the UK merger control regime, two or more enterprises cease to be distinct where they are brought under common ownership or common control.
In December 2018 the division bench of the Delhi High Court reconfirmed an earlier decision and held that simultaneous inquiries could be undertaken into Monsanto and its directors and officers for their alleged violation of the Competition Act 2002. The court also clarified that under Section 27 of the act, penalties could be imposed on the individuals in question based on their Monsanto-derived income.
The Israel Competition Authority recently published a draft amendment to the Antitrust Regulations (Registry, Publication and Reporting of Transactions) for public consultation. The draft includes significant and far-reaching changes regarding the scope of the transactions that will require merger approval by the competition commissioner, as well as the extent of the disclosure that will be required when filing merger notifications.
The Federal Administrative Court recently upheld a Sfr7 million fine issued by the Swiss Competition Commission in 2010 against SIX Group regarding the processing of credit and debit card payments. This long-awaited decision dealt with numerous legal questions of relevance to dominance cases; however, it is not yet final, as an appeal is pending before the Federal Supreme Court.
Amazon has offered to change its terms and conditions following a series of Federal Competition Authority (FCA) investigations regarding business practices on the 'Amazon.de' marketplace. The FCA conducted an extensive market survey in which approximately 400 of the top-selling Austrian marketplace traders on 'Amazon.de' were interviewed in writing and via telephone. The survey results showed that Amazon had market power for a representative selection of larger Austrian marketplace traders.
In 2017 the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) initiated a sector inquiry into the bank card acceptance market. Although the market was found to be competitive and functioning in accordance with the relevant regulations, the HCA has made a number of recommendations to both the legislature and market players in order to stimulate further growth.
The Office for the Protection of Competition recently found two companies guilty of bid rigging in a public tender. While similar bid-rigging cases occur quite frequently and generally fall within the office's purview, this case is unique because, for the first time, the office was informed about the anti-competitive behaviour by a whistleblower and appointed a guardian for one of the parties involved.
Where the Competition Market Authority (CMA) opens an investigation into a completed transaction, it will generally impose an initial enforcement order (IEO). In addition, the CMA can impose IEOs in the context of planned transactions, but anticipates that it will do so relatively rarely in practice. In the context of a completed transaction, an IEO aims to ensure that the acquired business continues to compete with the acquiring business and is maintained as a going concern during the course of the CMA's investigation.
In December 2018 the Supreme Court finally ended the jurisdictional conflict between the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). By invoking the doctrine of harmonious construction, the court balanced the scales and gave the TRAI the power to first determine the rights and obligations of parties, after which – if the TRAI believes that anti-competitive activity has occurred – the CCI's jurisdiction can be invoked.
Under the UK merger control regime, while parties can notify transactions and obtain clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) before completion, there is no legal requirement to do so. However, if parties do not obtain clearance before completion, the CMA can still investigate. Therefore, a completed transaction is potentially at risk of investigation during the four-month statutory period.
In a historic shift, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division will now consider providing credit to companies in the charging and sentencing stages of an antitrust criminal investigation if they have a robust and effective antitrust compliance programme. While a positive step, significant questions remain regarding the extent to which the opportunity for compliance credit will incentivise companies to self-report criminal antitrust violations and how the guidance interacts with the division's leniency programme.
In November 2018 the Competition Commission of India disagreed with the director general's findings and dismissed allegations that GAIL (India) Ltd had imposed unfair and one-sided conditions in its gas supply agreements (GSAs) with seven other companies and thereby abused its dominant position as the sole supplier of regasified liquefied natural gas. The main allegations concerned the take-or-pay liability and letter of credit clauses in the GSAs, which were allegedly one-sided and biased.
In Mexico, some public institutions consolidate the procurement requirements of their entities into one public tender to save costs and increase efficiency. As such, joint propositions among competitors may be the solution for companies that wish to participate in such processes where they involve substantial volumes of goods. However, there are no official guidelines or criteria on how joint propositions between competitors should be negotiated or implemented so that they do not pose a risk to competition.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed allegations that the Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association limited and controlled the free supply of products by charging the manufacturers of pharmaceutical products for a product information service (PIS). In making its decision, the CCI relied on the order passed in Santuka Associates Pvt Ltd, which found that the decisive factor in determining whether the practice of issuing PIS charges is anti-competitive lies in the nature of the charges.
The Commission on the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently issued a decision in which it penalised the funeral agency Elida MG EOOD (formerly Pokoy-1945 EOOD) for failing to comply with an earlier CPC decision. Such cases in which an undertaking fails to comply with a CPC decision and is therefore fined again are extremely rare due to the substantial pecuniary penalties which may be imposed on violators.
The Maritime and Commercial Court recently upheld a decision by the Competition Appeals Board which had found that a price coordination agreement between HMN Naturgas I/S, two sub-contractors and a trade association had as its object the restriction of competition. An interesting takeaway from the judgment is that the Maritime and Commercial Court viewed separable components of an agreement in isolation.
The Competition Commission of India has dismissed allegations that Flipkart India Private Limited and Flipkart Internet Private Limited abused their dominant position. Interestingly, although information was filed against the Flipkart entities, the commission held a preliminary conference with Amazon and concluded that no one player in the market could be said to have a dominant position at this stage of the market's evolution.
The Competition Board recently fined a fertiliser company for hindering an on-site inspection. The matter concerned whether company officials had been correct in preventing the case handlers from accessing personal email correspondence found in a corporate email account during the on-site inspection which implied that another company had been willing to revise its prices.
In November 2018 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed the allegations of cartelisation in the determination of flashlight prices against Eveready Industries India Limited, Panasonic Energy India Co Ltd, Indo National Ltd, Geep Industries (India) Pvt Ltd and the Association of Indian Dry Cell Manufacturers. Notably, the CCI exonerated the opposing parties despite the existence of two leniency applications.
The Ministry of Commerce of China recently announced the establishment of an Unreliable Entity List (UEL) targeting foreign entities and individuals that (among other things) fail to comply with the principles of the market economy or threaten China's national security. It is anticipated that the UEL will rely heavily on the Anti-monopoly Law, especially in relation to foreign entities with a noticeable market presence in China.