The Turkish Competition Authority ("TCA"), being quiet active in the previous months, has concluded investigations in a number of cases. The investigations concerned a variety of sectors including chemicals, electronics, tourism and retail, with the allegations covering a range of issues, including coordination between competitors, abuse of dominance, as well as resale price maintenance. The decisions in relation to the investigations are noteworthy not only because multinationals such as LG Electronics and Philips were involved, but also the overall fines within the last quarter reached a level of TRY 63 million (equivalent to EUR 17.2 million). Those decisions with no violation found are also important as they represent TCA's perception in relation to the analysis of the respective markets and commercial practices. Once the reasoned decisions in relation to these cases are published, more analysis and conclusions could be made. For the time being, we provide below an overview of the TCA's recent decisions.
Izmir Chamber of Jewellers Decision
On 07 July 2015 the TCA launched an investigation into İzmir Chamber of Jewellers ("Chamber") in relation to alleged coordination of gold sales prices and imposition of sanctions for those not obeying the dictated prices. The investigation was concluded on 27 October 2016, with TCA's finding that the Chamber violated the competition rules. On this basis, under TCA's decision No 16-35/603-268, the Chamber was faced with an administrative fine of TRY 4,740.35 (approx. EUR 1,300). The TCA did not consider necessity to impose personal fines.
Ankara Exhibition Operator Decision
In June 2015 the TCA launched an investigation into two affiliated companies engaged in exhibition organization based on the alleged abuse of dominance by way of (i) refusal to provide exhibition space, and (ii) requesting an excessive rental fee. This investigation was triggered upon the Ankara Administrative Court's annulment of the TCA's decision dated 2013, which determined that it was not necessary to resort a full-fledged investigation to further evaluate the allegations.
Following the evaluations, in its Decision No 16-35/604-269, the TCA concluded that the parent company Ankara Uluslararası Kongre ve Fuar İşletmeciliği abused its dominant position by way of refusal to supply and imposed a fine of TRY 268,042.77 (approx. EUR 73,500).
Computer and Console Games and Consumer Electronics Decision
In February 2015 the TCA launched an investigation against five companies to evaluate their behaviours within the game console market. Due to additional findings at the first stages of the investigation, in July 2015 the TCA extended the investigation's scope to the consumer electronics market. Within such extension, the number of the investigated companies increased to 11 (including leading market players such as Aral, Dogan, Bimeks, Gold, Vatan and Teknosa). As a result of the investigation, the TCA resolved to impose fines on:
- six of the investigated companies (Doğan, Gold, Kliksa, Vatan, Aral and Teknosa) based on the finding that they coordinated the resale prices in the computer and console games market,
- three of the investigated companies (LG, MS İstanbul and Teknosa) based on the finding that they coordinated resale prices in the consumer electronics market, and
- two of the investigated companies (Vestel and Philips Turkey) based on the finding that they were involved in resale price maintenance in the consumer electronics market.
The fines imposed on the companies mentioned above vary from TRY 860,000 to TRY 16.8 million, making a sum of TRY 55 million (approx. EUR 15 million).
Antalya Tourism Companies Case
On March 2015 the TCA launched an investigation into four tourism companies operating in Antalya, based on the alleged collusion to exclude competitors from the market. This investigation was triggered upon the Ankara Administrative Court's annulment of the TCA's decision dated 2013 in relation to the same practices, where the TCA only recommended the tourism companies in question, to refrain from agreements and practices that could harm competition.
After the initiation of the investigation, the TCA re-evaluated the concerned practices of the companies. In its Decision No 16-40/662-296 the TCA concluded that the tourism companies infringed the competition law and fined them with a total amount of TRY 8.33 million (approx. EUR 2.3 million).
Other Noteworthy Decisions
The TCA recently (October-November 2016) finalized investigations into a number of companies, finding no infringement and accordingly imposing no fine. These investigations concern:
- Dow Turkey, the Turkish branch of the prominent chemical company. The investigation was launched in order to evaluate whether the company abused its dominant position (decision No 16-33/586-257);
- Philips Turkey and its alleged abuse of dominance in relation to sales of spare parts for medical diagnostics and imaging devices, especially by way of applying differing sales prices to purchasers with same status (decision No 16-33/587-258);
- Siemens' behaviours in the spare parts market for medical viewing and diagnostic devices. The main purpose of the investigation was to assess whether it infringed the Turkish competition law within the technical service market by way of encryption and/or other practices in the process of spare parts supplies (Decision No 16-34/589-259);
- Aygaz, a Turkish company active in production, import, supply and distribution of LPG in the form of bottled gas. The investigation was launched to determine whether the company infringed the competition rules by setting resale prices (Decision No 16-39/659-294).
We expect the TCA's reasoned decisions in relation to the above cases in order to make more analysis and conclusions in relation to the TCA's assessment of the respective markets and potential concerns.
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