IN THE NEWS
The European Commission has launched a competition sector inquiry into the e-commerce sector. The inquiry, as announced by Commissioner Vestager in March, will be used by the Commission to seek to identify possible competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets. It is intended to complement actions launched within the framework of the Digital Single Market Strategy adopted by the Commission. The Commission has stated that the sector inquiry will focus particularly on potential barriers erected by companies to cross-border online trade in goods and services where e-commerce is most widespread, such as electronics, clothing and shoes, as well as digital content. The Commission considers that knowledge gained through the sector inquiry will contribute to better enforcement of competition law in the e-commerce sector. Click here.
Pubs merger faces phase 2 merger investigation unless suitable undertakings offered
The CMA has announced that the anticipated acquisition by Greene King of Spirit Pub Company will be referred for an in-depth phase 2 merger investigation unless acceptable undertakings are offered. The CMA, at first phase, has found that the transaction gives rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in 16 local areas where it concluded that the parties' pubs were in close proximity, were each other's key rivals and did not face sufficient competition from other outlets. Click here.
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The European Commission has accepted commitments offered by Air France/KLM, Alitalia and Delta, members of the SkyTeam airline alliance, aimed at lowering barriers to entry and expansion on three transatlantic routes. The Commission had concerns that the cooperation between these airlines may harm competition for passengers on the Amsterdam-New York and Rome-New York routes and for premium passengers on the Paris-New York route. After market testing the commitments, the Commission has decided to accept them for a period of ten years. Click here.
Competition Appeal Tribunal
The CAT has issued its ruling on whether a new CAT panel should be constituted to hear the issues remitted by the Court of Appeal in the pay TV appeals. The Chairman decided that it was appropriate to recuse himself based on objections raised by Ofcom and BT in relation to a speech he made in June 2013. However, the CAT found that the specific objections in respect of the Chairman provided no basis for the recusal of the other two members of the original panel. Click here.
The CMA has decided to close its investigations of MasterCard's and Visa's multilateral interchange fees after it was confirmed that an EU regulation capping these fees will soon come into force. Click here.
The CMA has issued its final decision in its investigation into an association of estate and lettings agents, three of its members and a newspaper publisher in relation to agreements restricting the estate agents from advertising their fees or discounts in the local newspaper, the 'Surrey & Hants Star Courier'. This follows the CMA's announcement in March 2015 that the parties had admitted breaching competition law and had received reduced penalties to recognise efficiencies for the CMA resulting from the streamlined administrative procedure following settlement, as well as the parties' admissions and ongoing co-operation as part of the settlement. The CMA has imposed penalties on the parties totalling £735,000. Click here.
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