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.
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.
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.
In 2018 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) issued a notification which further amended the CCI (Procedure in Regard to the Transaction of Business Relating to Combinations) Regulations 2011. Following strong opposition from industry groups, the CCI has dropped a controversial amendment. This article highlights the notification's most important changes.
In October 2018 the Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment in which it upheld the appeals of 44 liquefied petroleum gas cylinder manufacturers and dismissed the earlier finding of bid rigging. In its decision, the court emphasised the need to evaluate the market structure and conditions before determining whether a cartel exists. This judgment signifies a new direction in case law and is likely to change the manner in which India's antitrust regulator evaluates evidence of cartels in future.
The Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) recently issued a press release announcing that it had rejected Walmart's proposal to acquire Cornershop in light of the potential risks that it posed to competition and free market access. This case is significant as it is the first merger review case in which the COFECE has analysed vertical concentrations involving digital platforms.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently imposed a penalty on Italian company Esaote SpA – a world leader in dedicated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – and its Indian subsidiary. According to the CCI's order, the Esaote group had abused its dominant position in the market through its sale of dedicated standing/tilting MRI machines to the informant. However, the CCI chair disagreed with the relevant market adopted by the majority of the commission.
The European Commission's report 'Competition policy for the digital era' is its most substantial step yet towards crystallising the dialogue on the question of how competition law could or should adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape and the growing role of the digital economy. However, while the report touches on a wide range of ideas and proposals, it openly notes that not all of these are developed in detail or go beyond "very preliminary" conclusions.
The Competition Commission recently initiated proceedings against 18 electric cable manufacturers which had engaged in deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act by failing to disclose to consumers that there were cash/cash coupons in the packaging of electric wire cable bundles. The commission's enquiry concluded that on account of this omission, purchasers of the product had been unaware of the coupons and this benefit had instead transferred to various electricians.
The Constitutional Tribunal recently analysed regulations regarding dawn raids carried out by the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection and ruled that the respective law is not in line with the Constitution insofar as it excludes the possibility to challenge rulings allowing searches to be conducted. As a result, the Competition Act will be amended to provide searched undertakings with the possibility to appeal against Circuit Court consent to conduct searches.
The Administrative Council for Economic Defence recently issued a decision on the definition of 'de facto control' under Brazilian competition law. While the decision establishes certain criteria that companies should consider when determining whether their contractual relationships with close partners may confer de facto control, these criteria are somewhat unclear and do not allow companies to assess, with sufficient certainty, whether an agreement should be subject to mandatory review.
In January 2019 Parliament passed a comprehensive amendment to the Economic Competition Law 1988. Among other things, the amendment introduced an alternative definition of a 'monopoly' based on a market power test rather than market share and significantly increased the maximum cap for monetary administrative penalties which can be levied on corporations. To put the new rules into practice, the Israel Competition Authority recently published draft guidelines on both of these matters.
Under the Cartel Act, a merger filing is generally required when the relevant turnover thresholds pursuant to Article 9(1) of the act are met. However, in addition to these thresholds, the act provides for a filing obligation based on a dominant market position. As a result of legal uncertainty, a leading media group recently asked the Secretariat of the Competition Commission whether its intended acquisition of a small media agency would trigger a merger filing obligation even if the turnover thresholds were clearly not met.
The Shanghai Market Regulation Bureau (SMRB) recently issued a penalty decision addressed to Eastman (China) Investment Management Co, Ltd, a Chinese subsidiary of US Chemical firm Eastman Chemical Company. Since this is the first antitrust enforcement decision to be issued by the SMRB since its establishment, it has drawn significant attention from commentators who have attempted to identify the bureau's enforcement approach.
Although still fairly new, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) diligently investigated and penalised monopolistic behaviour in 2018, publishing a dozen cases alongside its local enforcement agencies which attracted media attention. Notably, livelihood-related industries (including the pharmaceutical industry) and trade associations appeared to come under the SAMR's spotlight.
The assistant attorney general recently suggested that antitrust enforcers should update their analytical framework to account for modern corporate structures, signalling the potential for antitrust violations when officers and directors serve multiple competing companies. The assistant attorney general's speech is a reminder that behaviour that is not explicitly prohibited by the letter of the antitrust statutes may still raise eyebrows.
The Competition Board recently published its reasoned decision following a preliminary investigation into allegations that çiğ köfte producers in Gaziantep province had restricted competition through anti-competitive behaviour and agreements. The complainant claimed that at a meeting at the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce, the çiğ köfte producers had determined market prices, and that undertakings which chose not to comply with the determined prices would be penalised.
The National People's Congress recently passed and published revisions to the Anti-unfair Competition Law. The revisions focus primarily on trade secret infringement, as trade secrets are regarded as one of the core competitive advantages in today's business world. The main amendments include widening the definition of 'infringer', increasing penalties for infringement and alleviating the burden of proof for plaintiffs.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently cleared the acquisition of Nova Broadcasting Group AD by Advance Media Group EAD, which is owned by the well-known Bulgarian businesspeople Kiril and Georgi Domuschievi. The CPC was adamant that the proposed acquisition would not cause anti-competitive effects in the TV distribution market because the two companies are not direct competitors; rather, they have a de facto vertical relationship.