German Federal Cartel Office prohibits joint venture between RTL and Pro7Sat1

According to a press release of 18 March 2011, the German Federal Cartel Office has prohibited the plans of broadcasting groups RTL and Pro7Sat1 to form a joint venture for the creation and operation of an online video platform.

In its statement of objections of 23 February 2011, the Cartel Office explained that the proposed transaction – as initially notified – would strengthen the existing dominant duopoly between the two broadcasting groups on the market for TV advertising. Moreover, the Cartel Office expressed concerns that the joint venture would lead to anti-competitive coordination between the parent companies. The Cartel Office noted that it had given careful consideration to the potential synergies created by a new video-on-demand platform, but concluded that these benefits did not outweigh the competitive harm resulting from the concentration.

RTL and Pro7Sat1 submitted comments on the Cartel Office's statement of objections, but were unable to dispel the Office's competition concerns and did not offer any commitments that adequately addressed these concerns. The Cartel Office therefore prohibited the proposed joint venture. This decision can still be appealed by the parties.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

AUSTRIA: According to a recent press release, the Austrian Cartel Court imposed a fine of € 200,000 on a private equity fund for failure to comply with commitments, such as reporting and trustee obligations, imposed by a conditional merger clearance decision.

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