UK: Focus Antitrust - 25 September 2013

Last Updated: 27 September 2013
Article by Paul Stone and Elora Mukherjee

In the News

OFT issues Statement of Objections in mobility scooters sector

The OFT has issued a Statement of Objections to a manufacturer of mobility scooters, Pride Mobility Products Limited, and eight of its retailers, alleging that they have breached the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act by entering into agreements containing price restrictions on online sales of mobility scooters. Click here.

OFT issues Statement of Objections to sports bra manufacturer

The OFT has issued a Statement of Objections to a manufacturer of sports bras and three UK department stores claiming that they have breached the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act by entering into resale price maintenance agreements that set a fixed or minimum resale price on a brand of sports bras. Click here.

OFT refers acquisition of certain assets of Aggregate Industries UK Limited to CC

The OFT has referred the completed acquisition by Breedon Aggregates Limited of certain assets of Aggregate Industries UK Limited to the CC, having found that the parties were close competitors, with high combined market shares, and that the merger raises a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of primary aggregates, asphalt and ready-mix concrete in certain local areas in the North of Scotland. Click here.

EU

European Courts

  • The General Court has published an order removing an appeal lodged by Aeroporia Aigaiou Aeroporiki and Marfin Investment Group Symmetochon against the European Commission's 2011 decision to prohibit the merger between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air from its register, on the basis that the applicants wished to discontinue the proceedings. Click here.
  • AG Mengozzi has delivered opinions in appeals by Areva and Alstom, Siemens Transmission and Distribution and the European Commission against the General Court judgments in actions brought against the Commission's decision which imposed fines on eleven groups of companies for infringing Article 101(1) TFEU by participating in an illegal collusive tendering cartel in the market for gas insulated switchgear projects. AG Mengozzi considered that the General Court had wrongly concluded that only the Commission (and not national courts) can determine payment responsibilities of different undertakings subject to joint and several fines. Further, the General Court was wrong to consider that the joint and several fine should be attributed to the companies in equal measure. Click here.

UK

Competition Commission

  • The CC has published its final decision on a review of undertakings given by the BBC under the Fair Trading Act 1973, following a 1992 monopolies report by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on television broadcasting services, including the publication of programme support material. The MMC had previously found that a monopoly situation existed in favour of the BBC and had imposed undertakings which restrict the ways in which the BBC can promote its magazines on BBC1 and BBC2. The CC now considers that, despite there having been a change of circumstances (due to the sale of the BBC's consumer magazines business in 2011 and the sale of Lonely Planet in 2013), the BBC retains both the incentive and ability to promote 16 magazine titles for which it still receives income under licensing and publishing agreements. The CC has therefore concluded that the undertakings should remain in force and do not require amendment to reflect the change in circumstances. Click here.

Competition Appeal Tribunal

  • The CAT has refused permission for SGL Carbon SE and Mersen SA to appeal against its decision to lift the stay on actions brought against them by UK-based claimants, on the basis that the CAT did not believe there to be a reasonable prospect of an appeal against its ruling succeeding or any other compelling reason as to why an appeal ought to be heard. Click here.
  • The CAT has published an application by Ryanair for review of the CC's final report on the completed acquisition by Ryanair of a minority stake in Aer Lingus. Ryanair alleges that the CC's decision to require Ryanair to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus is contrary to the EU duty of sincere co-operation, that the CC's procedure was unfair and that the CC had wrongly arrived at conclusions that were either unreasonable or unsubstantiated by the evidence. In addition, Ryanair alleges that the CC has no jurisdiction to impose (disproportionate) remedies on Ryanair which require Ryanair to do things/refrain from doing things outside the UK. httpClick here.
  • The CAT has issued case management directions in relation to the future progress of the application by BMI Healthcare Limited for review of the CC's decision refusing it permission to use certain information found in a "disclosure room" to respond to the CC's provisional findings in the private healthcare market investigation. Click here.

OFT

  • The OFT has accepted initial hold separate undertakings from Google, Inc in relation to the completed acquisition by Google, Inc of Waze Mobile Ltd. Click here.
  • The OFT has accepted initial hold separate undertakings from Hargreaves Services Plc in relation to the completed acquisition by Hargreaves Surface Mining Limited of certain assets of Scottish Coal Company Limited. Click here.

UK Courts

  • The High Court has refused a request by Unitech to amend its defence/pleadings in respect of the action brought against it by Deutsche Bank for breach of a credit facility agreement and an interest swap agreement, on the basis that the proposed points to be included had little prospect of success. Unitech wished to argue that the process by which LIBOR was set by the banks constituted an unlawful information exchange, contrary to Article 101TFEU and the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act and was accordingly void. Unitech argued that, since the agreements with the claimant banks were so closely connected with this illegal agreement (being based on and relying on LIBOR rates), they should also be declared void. Click here.

Other

  • Monitor has published the report of the Co-operation and Competition Panel on the merger of parts of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust. Click here.
  • BIS has published a summary of stakeholder views from consultation workshops on its proposals for streamlining regulatory and competition appeals. Click here.

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