UK: Focus Antitrust - Competition Weekly Email Alert - 26 October 2011

Last Updated: 31 October 2011
Article by Paul Stone


The General Court has delivered its judgments in the appeals by Aragonesas and Uralita SA against a European Commission decision that fined them for participation in an illegal price-fixing and market-sharing cartel in relation to sodium chlorate paper bleach. The General Court has dismissed Uralita's claim that the Commission erred in attributing to it liability for the infringement committed by Aragonesas. The General Court held that the Commission had been correct to find that Uralita had become the legal successor of the former parent company and to transfer liability for the unlawful conduct to Uralita. The General Court did however find that the evidence relied on by the Commission to prove Aragonesas's participation in the infringement was not sufficiently conclusive in demonstrating that Aragonesas had participated in the entire infringement. The Court therefore annulled the decision in so far as it sets the fine to be paid jointly and severally by Aragonesas and Uralita at €9.9 million. Click here.

The ECJ has delivered its judgment on appeals by Solvay SA against the General Court's judgments (largely upholding European Commission decisions finding that Solvay had breached Articles 101 and 102 TFEU by virtue of its practices in the soda ash market). Due to errors of law in the General Court's assessment, the ECJ has decided to set aside the General Court's judgments and to annul the Commission's decisions that found Solvay to have breached Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. Click here and here.

The European Commission has imposed fines totalling €128.7 million on three producers of special glass used to make cathode ray tubes (Asahi Glass, Nippon Electric and Schott AG) for participation in an illegal cartel. Click here.


Articles 101 and 102

  • The European Commission has opened an investigation into an agreement between Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, to examine whether contractual arrangements between the two companies may have had the object or effect of hindering the entry on to the market of generic versions of Fentanyl in the Netherlands, contrary to Article 101 TFEU. Click here.
  • The European Commission has sent a statement of objections to Telefónica and Portugal Telecom concerning their July 2010 agreement not to compete on the Iberian telecommunications markets. Telefónica and Portugal Telecom now have the opportunity to respond in writing and orally to the allegations and evidence set out in the Commission's statement of objections. Click here.
  • Details of three appeals lodged with the ECJ against the General Court's judgments on appeals against the European Commission's decision on the international removal services cartel have been published. Click here, here and here.
  • The European Commission has conducted unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the sector of financial derivative products linked to the Euro Interbank Offered Rate in several member states, on the basis that it has reason to believe that the companies may have engaged in anti-competitive practices in breach of Article 101 TFEU. Click here.
  • The European Commission's Notice on best practices for the conduct of proceedings concerning Articles 101 and 102 TFEU has been published in the Official Journal. Click here.

Mergers – invitation to comment

Mergers – Phase II investigations

  • The European Commission has decided, following a Phase II investigation, to approve unconditionally the acquisition of MWM by Caterpillar. Click here.
  • The European Commission has decided, following a Phase II investigation, to approve unconditionally the acquisition by Seagate Technology of the hard disk drive business of Samsung Electronics. Click here.

Mergers – cleared

Public Procurement

  • The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the modernisation of public procurement. The six tasks identified for modernisation include improving legal certainty, developing the full potential of public procurement (value for money), simplifying the rules and allowing more flexible procedures, improving access for SMEs, ensuring sound procedures and avoiding unfair advantages, and expanding the use of e-procurement. Click here.


  • Neelie Kroes: "e-Communications: making Europe the connected, competitive continent", click here.


UK Courts

  • The High Court has dismissed applications by the defendants to strike out an action for damages allegedly caused by the industrial copper tubes cartel. It refused to strike out claims brought against UK-based defendants, who are subsidiaries of the addressees of the European Commission's cartel decision, but not mentioned in the infringement decision themselves. Click here.


  • The CAT has published a notice of an appeal lodged by Tesco to challenge the OFT's decision fining Tesco for its involvement in two infringements of the Chapter I prohibition in relation to the retail pricing of cheese. Click here. " The CAT has handed down its rulings on 12 applications for the costs of appeal against the OFT's decision in the construction bid-rigging/ cover pricing case. Click here, here and here.
  • The CAT has published the transcript of a case management conference held in the appeals by BT and Talk Talk to challenge Ofcom's decision on the wholesale broadband access charge control. Click here.
  • Cardiff Bus under section 47A of the Competition Act 1998. Click here.

Competition Commission

  • The CC has announced its provisional findings on the completed acquisition by Kerry Foods Limited of the frozen ready meals business of Headland Foods Limited. Evidence shows that the existing and potential alternatives will constrain the merged entity's ability to increase prices above competitive levels and accordingly, the CC has provisionally concluded that the merger will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition. Click here.
  • The CC has announced its provisional findings on the anticipated acquisition by BATS Global Markets of Chi-X Europe Limited. The CC has provisionally concluded that the acquisition may not be expected to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any market in the UK. Click here.


  • Mergers – invitation to comment: Sims Recycling/S3 Interactive; Zoopla/Digital Property; PHS Group/Direct Hygiene Limited; Investec/Evolution, click here.
  • Mergers – referred to the Competition Commission: Kent Messenger Group/Northcliffe Media Limited, click here.
  • Mergers – cleared: Amazon/Book Depository, click here; Western Union/Travelex Global Business Payments, click here.
  • Mergers – undertakings in lieu of a reference: Rontec/Total, click here.
  • Mergers – hold separate undertakings: PHS Group/Personnel Hygiene Services, click here.
  • Mergers – full text decisions: Vivendi S.A/UK Ticketing Limited, click here; Lonza Group Limited/Arch Chemicals, click here; Survitec Group Limited/SOLAS Division of Zodiac Marine & Pool SASU, click here; Surivitec Group/Marine Division of Cosalt plc, click here; Ryder Systems/Hill Hire plc, click here.
  • The OFT has decided to release Asda Stores Limited from an obligation to divest a store acquired from Netto Foodstores Limited. Click here.
  • The OFT is consulting on two revised guidance documents, setting out proposals to update its approach to financial penalties and to awarding leniency in competition cases. Click here and here.
  • The OFT has published a case closure statement in relation to its investigation into suspected anti-competitive activities by JJB Sports PLC and Sports Direct International PLC in the sports retail sector. The investigation related to suspected price-fixing in respect of sports goods and suspected market-sharing. Click here.
  • The OFT has published an economic research report on conjectural variations and competition policy. Click here.
  • The OFT has confirmed its provisional decision to refer the market for statutory audit services to large companies in the UK to the CC for a market investigation under the Enterprise Act 2002. Click here.


  • Ofcom has published an invitation to comment on measuring plurality across media. Click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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