European Union: Focus Antitrust - Competition Weekly Email Alert - 28 March 2012

Last Updated: 9 April 2012
Article by Paul Stone

IN THE NEWS

Competition Commission concludes waste merger has to be unwound

The Competition Commission will require Stericycle Inc to sell Ecowaste Southwest Limited, a company it bought last year, after concluding that the acquisition would lead to a loss of local rivalry leading to higher prices and lower service levels in parts of the South-West of England. Stericycle's UK subsidiary, SRCL Limited, collects, treats and disposes of healthcare risk waste for the medical and other sectors throughout England and Wales. Prior to the acquisition, Ecowaste Southwest provided the same service in the South-West of England through its treatment facility at Avonmouth, Bristol. Click here.

OFT publishes Annual Plan for 2012/13

The OFT's annual plan focuses on three strategic business objectives of high impact enforcement, influencing markets through advocacy and guidance, and building organisational delivery and capability. Within this, the OFT's plan states that particular priority will be given to five themes: responding to market problems facing consumers who are vulnerable; building trust in online markets; intellectual property and high innovation markets; tackling instances where pricing is used as a barrier to fair choice; and working constructively with other government departments and public bodies to help them frame and deliver public services that work well for citizens and taxpayers. Click here.

OFT launches consultation on Competition Act procedures guidance

The OFT has launched its consultation on proposals to strengthen its Competition Act decision-making processes, through introducing a new system of decision-makers who are separate from investigation teams. The OFT is also extending the trial of its Procedural Adjudicator role for a further year, to 21 March 2013, with an expanded remit. Click here.

European Commission and UEFA team up on state aid issues

Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia and UEFA President Michel Platini have issued a joint statement on the interaction between the application to professional football of Financial Fair Play rules by UEFA and the control of State aid in professional football by the Commission. The statement confirms that the Financial Fair Play rules are in line with EU state aid policy. Click here.

Commissions opens Phase II investigation in Goodrich/UTC merger

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition of control over Goodrich Corporation by United Technology Corporation (UTC), both US-based companies active in the production and sale of aviation equipment on a worldwide basis. The Commission's preliminary investigation indicated potential competition concerns regarding the markets for engine controls and AC power generators, where the parties would have very high combined market shares. The Commission also has vertical concerns concerning the removal of Goodrich as an independent supplier of fuel nozzles and engine controls, as well as in the area of aftermarket services. Click here.

Commission opens Phase II investigation in Universal/EMI merger

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition of the recorded music business of EMI by Universal Music Group. The Commission's initial market investigation indicated that the proposed transaction may raise competition concerns in the wholesale of physical and digital recorded music in numerous Member States as well as in the European Economic Area (EEA) as a whole. Click here.

EU

Mergers – cleared

Mergers – appeals

  • The Advocate General's opinion has been issued on the appeals by the European Commission and Lagardère against the General Court's annulment of the Commission's decision to appoint Wendel Investissement as purchaser of divestment assets in relation to the Lagardère/Natexis/VUP merger. The opinion concludes that the General Court's judgment should be set aside. Click here.

Articles 101 and 102

  • The General Court has handed down a judgment dismissing appeals by Slovak Telekom against decisions of the European Commission requiring it to provide information in the context of a Commission investigation into an alleged breach of Article 102. Click here.
  • The ECJ has handed down a ruling on a preliminary reference from the Danish Supreme Court on the circumstances when selective price reductions can constitute abuse of dominance. Click here.
  • A number of appeals have been lodged against the judgments of the General Court in relation to the European Commission's decision on the industrial bags cartel. Click here.
  • Aliance One International, Inc, has lodged an appeal against the General Court's judgment which largely dismissed its appeal against the European Commission's decision on the Spanish raw tobacco cartel. Click here.

UK

Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

  • The CAT has published a ruling rejecting an application by 2 Travel Group plc to anonymise witness evidence during the hearing of its damages action against Cardiff City Transport Services Limited. Click here.
  • The CAT has published a ruling rejecting an application by the OFT for disclosure of certain documents by Tesco in the context of Tesco's appeal against the OFT's decision in relation to the retail pricing of cheese. The OFT sought disclosure of notes of discussions between Tesco and potential witnesses in the final stages of the OFT's investigation. The CAT held that disclosure should not be ordered since the documents sought were neither necessary nor proportionate to the issues in the appeal. It also held that the documents in question were subject to litigation privilege and privilege had not been waived. Click here.

Competition Commission

  • The animal by-products merger inquiry has been formally cancelled. Click here.

OFT

  • Mergers – invitations to comment: United Online Inc/the 'gifts division' business of Flying Brands Limited; Ambu A/S/the cardiology electrodes and diathermy business of Unomedical Limited; GB Oils/Seletar Services - Click here.
  • Mergers – cleared: MediaCom North Limited/the businesses and certain assets of Brilliant Media – Click here; Aldersgate Investments Limited/Arena Leisure plc – Click here; Lion Capital LLP/the business and certain assets of Cumbrian Holdings Ltd – Click here.
  • Mergers – full text decisions: Capital Shopping Centres Group plc/Broadmarsh Retail Limited Partnership – Click here; JCDecaux/rights in Concourse Initiatives Limited and Media Initiatives Limited – Click here.
  • The OFT is consulting on undertakings offered by Jewson in relation to its acquisition of the Build Center. 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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