UK: Focus Antitrust - Competition Weekly Alert - 22 August 2012

Last Updated: 29 August 2012
Article by Paul Stone

OFT refers casino merger to the Competition Commission

The OFT has referred Rank's anticipated acquisition of Gala Casinos to the Competition Commission for further investigation. The OFT's investigation found that Rank and Gala are two of the three large national casino operators in the UK and that, following the merger, there would be only two large national casino operators, Rank and Genting. Click here.

Public interest intervention in Global Radio and Guardian Media Group Radio merger

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has issued an intervention notice in relation the merger between Global Radio and Guardian Media Group Radio.The notice requires Ofcom to investigate the public interest consideration of media plurality and submit a report by 28 September 2012. In addition, the OFT must advise the Secretary of State on the competition and jurisdictional aspects of the transaction by 28 September 2012. Click here.

CAT rules that Competition Commission investigation into Ryanair's minority stake in Aer Lingus can continue

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has dismissed an application by Ryanair to challenge a decision of the Competition Commission to continue its investigation of Ryanair's minority shareholding in Aer Lingus. Although Ryanair's public bid for the remaining shares in Aer Lingus is currently being reviewed by the European Commission under the EU Merger Regulation, the CAT concluded that the Competition Commission can continue its investigation, as the acquisition of the minority shareholding is not caught by the EU Merger Regulation. However, the duty of sincere co-operation does apply and the Competition Commission must avoid taking any decision running counter to a decision by the European Commission in relation to the public bid. Click here.

CAT upholds BSkyB's appeal against Ofcom's pay TV decision

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has upheld BSkyB's appeal against Ofcom's decision in relation to the pay TV market, which required BSkyB to offer wholesale access to its premium sports channels. The CAT concluded that Ofcom's core competition concern was unfounded, since it was based on Ofcom's finding that Sky had deliberately withheld from other retailers wholesale supply of its premium channels. The CAT's view was that the evidence showed that Sky did, on the whole, engage constructively with other retailers, contrary to Ofcom's finding. Click here.


Articles 101 and 102

  • The European Commission has opened an investigation into suspected cartels for the supply of automotive electrical distribution systems, also known as wireharnesses. This case is part of a wider effort to investigate possible cartels in the automotive sector. Click here.
  • The European Commission is inviting comments from interested parties on commitments offered by Rio Tinto Alcan to address concerns that it may have infringed Article 102 by contractually tying its AP aluminium smelting technology to aluminium smelter equipment it supplies, namely pot tending assemblies (PTAs). To address these concerns, Rio Tinto Alcan has offered to modify its AP technology transfer agreements so as to enable the licensees of the AP aluminium smelting technology to choose any supplier whose PTAs meet certain technical specifications. Click here.


Competition Appeal Tribunal

  • Siemens and Capital Meters have commenced damages actions against National Grid in relation to Ofgem's 2008 decision finding that National Grid had abused its dominant position in the supply of domestic gas meters. Siemens and Capital Meters are claiming lost profits, on the basis that British Gas took a lower volume of meters under its agreement with Capital Meters than it would have done in the absence of National Grid's abuse. Click here.

Competition Commission

  • The Competition Commission has provisionally cleared McGill's Bus Services Limited's completed acquisition of the Arriva Scotland West local bus business. The Commission has provisionally concluded that, without the acquisition, both parties would have continued to provide services in the Renfrewshire area, but, although they were each other's closest rivals, in future competition between them would have reduced. The Commission has also provisionally concluded that the threat of entry into the area by large bus operators located nearby will provide sufficient incentive for McGill to avoid reducing frequencies or increasing fares as a result of the acquisition. Click here.
  • The Competition Commission has confirmed its provisional findings in relation to VPS' acquisition of SitexOrbis and will require VPS to sell SitexOrbis' business in Great Britain. The Commission was concerned about the impact of the merger on the supply of vacant property security services to local authorities and businesses. Click here.


  • The OFT has accepted undertakings from Betfred to divest a betting shop in each of 25 local areas to resolve competition concerns raised by its completed acquisition of the Tote. As a result, the acquisition will not be referred to the Competition Commission. Click here.
  • The OFT has published its provisional findings that the 2007 undertakings given by Yell Group relating to its Yellow Pages business following a Competition Commission market investigation may no longer be appropriate and that the Competition Commission should consider whether the company should be released from them. Click here.
  • Eight NHS Hospital Trusts have given voluntary assurances to the OFT that they will no longer exchange commercially sensitive information about their Private Patient Unit (PPU) prices. Click here.


  • Ofwat has issued a consultation on its intention to accept commitments offered by Severn Trent to resolve concerns in relation to an alleged abuse of dominance. Ofwat had begun an investigation into a complaint alleging that Severn Trent Laboratories Limited, a subsidiary of Severn Trent Water, had won contracts to supply water analysis services to other water companies by predatory pricing, and that this had been cross-subsidised by higher charges to its parent, Severn Trent Water. Under the commitments, Severn Trent Water will bring its analytical water services requirements in-house and Severn Trent Laboratories will be divested. 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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