No path for Amazon's acquisition of iRobot

Amazon has abandoned its planned USD 1.4 billion purchase of robot vacuum cleaner manufacturer iRobot following the European Commission's ("EC") report not to allow the deal to go through. The EC launched a phase II probe into the deal in July 2023 on the basis that the proposed merger could potentially hinder iRobot's competitors from selling their own products on Amazon's online marketplace. Amazon declined to offer remedies for the concerns raised by the EC.

UK's CMA expands fragrance cartel probe on no-poach accusations

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") has expanded its cartel investigation launched in March 2023 into leading fragrance companies Firmenich International, Givaudan, and International Flavors & Fragrances, based on allegations of illegal no-poach agreements preventing the hiring of each other's employees. The companies collectively hold 64% of the global flavours and fragrance market. This marks the CMA's third labour market investigation as it intensifies efforts to "clamp down" on anticompetitive practices in the labour market.

European Parliament considers including cloud service providers in the DMA

The European Parliament has adopted a competition report urging the EC to widen the scope of the Digital Markets Act ("DMA") to include cloud service providers and generative artificial intelligence. The report indicates that the EC should open a "qualitative assessment" investigation to designate cloud service providers as gatekeepers.

Lufthansa-ITA Airways deal is under investigation

The EC has announced that it has launched an in-depth probe into Lufthansa's proposed acquisition of joint control of ITA Airways with the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance on concerns that the transaction could reduce competition in the market for short-haul and long-haul routes to and from Italy. Lufthansa's commitments in January 2023 failed to address these concerns adequately, leading to an extended Phase II investigation. This decision brings the number of transactions currently under Phase II review to four. A decision is expected to be delivered by June 6.

Spanish court overturns EUR 91 million banking cartel fine

Spain's National Court has overturned the EUR 91 million fine imposed by the National Commission of Markets and Competition ("CNMC") on Santander, Caixa Bank, BBVA, and Banco Sabadell for alleged collusion in fixing interest-rate derivatives costs. The CNMC sanctioned the banks after an investigation launched in 2016 based on accusations of setting above-market prices for interest-rate derivatives in syndicated loans between 2006–2016. The court deemed that the CNMC successfully established collusion between the defendants but failed to prove a single and continuous infringement from 2006 to 2016, stating that the breach was time-barred.

Taiwanese media companies fined for breaching merger commitments

Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission ("TFTC") has fined media companies Dafu Media and Kbro the maximum of EUR 1.5 million each for breaching merger commitments made in 2010. The violations stem from Dafu's acquisition of Shengting and 12 cable TV systems, with the TFTC uncovering joint coordination on strategic decisions among cable TV systems and shared resources, contrary to commitments. The commitments included (i) the TFTC's pre-approval when the merged entity decides to share any facilities or equipment with other cable TV providers, and (ii) not participating in joint sales with other TV programme suppliers. This marks the TFTC's first penalty for breach of merger commitments, expressing concern over increased market power and potential abuse by the merged entity in Taiwan's cable TV industry.

Record fine for British American Tobacco in Nigeria

Nigeria's Federal Consumer and Competition Protection Commission ("FCCPC") has ordered British American Tobacco ("BAT") to pay a EUR 100 million fine on the basis that BAT prevented its retailers from equally displaying rival products. BAT pledged to allow the watchdog to supervise its compliance with competition and consumer law for the period of two years. This marks the highest-ever fine imposed by the FCCPC since it was formed in 2019.

Food delivery companies to scrap MFN clauses in Chile

Uber Eats, Rappi, and PedidosYa, a Delivery Hero subsidiary, have agreed to remove most-favoured nation (MFN) clauses from their agreements with restaurants to settle the investigation opened by Chile's Tribunal for the Defence of Free Competition ("TDLC"). The approved commitments require the platforms to eliminate or modify all MFN clauses, allowing restaurants to offer lower prices on alternative platforms or through their own channels. The companies subject to the investigation also pledged not to include such clauses in future contracts and will report to the TDLC annually on exclusivity clauses with restaurants.

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