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Focus Antitrust - 1 July 2015

In The News

Two acquitted in galvanised steel tanks criminal cartel case

The CMA has announced that two directors, Clive Dean and Nicholas Stringer, have been acquitted of charges under the criminal cartel offence following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.  The acquittals came after a further defendant, Nigel Snee, had already pleaded guilty to the same offence last year.  Mr Snee will appear for sentencing at a later date.  The announcement states that the CMA accepts that in this case the jury were not persuaded that Mr Stringer and Mr Dean acted dishonestly, and that they should, therefore, be acquitted.  However, the CMA notes that following a change in the law, for conduct after 1 April 2014, it is no longer necessary for the CMA to prove individuals acted dishonestly in order for the cartel offence to be committed.  Click here.

 European Commission fines producers and distributors €115 million for operating retail food packaging cartels

The European Commission has fined eight manufacturers and two distributors of retail food packaging trays a total of €115 865 000 for having participated in at least one of five separate cartels. The eight manufacturers are Huhtamäki of Finland, Nespak and Vitembal of France, Silver Plastics of Germany, Coopbox, Magic Pack and Sirap-Gema of Italy and Linpac of the UK. The two distributors are Ovarpack of Portugal and Propack of the UK.  The Commission found that the companies fixed prices and allocated customers of polystyrene foam or polypropylene rigid trays, in breach of Article 101. Polystyrene foam and polypropylene rigid trays are used for packaging food sold in shops or supermarkets, for products such as cheese, meat, fish or cake.  Linpac benefited from full immunity under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Guidelines as it revealed the existence of the cartels to the Commission.  Click here.

Galvanising merger in West Midlands faces phase 2 investigation unless undertakings offered

The proposed acquisition by Joseph Ash of W Corbett will be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation unless acceptable undertakings are offered. The CMA has found that the proposed acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of galvanising services in the West Midlands region around the Corbett galvanising plant in Telford.  Galvanising is a process used to protect steel from corrosion and is an input for a number of products, including products used in infrastructure projects.  Click here.


Articles 101 and 102
  • The European Commission has sent a statement of objections to suspected participants in a car battery recycling cartel.  The Commission has concerns that, from 2009 to 2012, five lead recycling companies participated in a cartel aimed at fixing the purchase prices for scrap lead-acid batteries in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Commission alleges in its statement of objections that these companies agreed or coordinated their behaviour only in order to maintain higher profit margins. Click here.
  • The ECJ has issued its judgment on appeals by Del Monte and the European Commission in relation to the Commission's decision on the banana importers cartel.  The ECJ has dismissed Del Monte's appeal.  However, it has upheld the Commission’s appeal, finding that the General Court was wrong to reduce Del Monte’s fine, on the basis that responding to an informal information request does not amount to genuine cooperation meriting a reduction in fine.  Click here.
  • Following a phase 2 investigation the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of rotating equipment manufacturer Dresser-Rand of the US by Siemens of Germany. Both companies supply turbo compressors as well as the engines which drive these compressors.  Click here.


  • The CMA has closed its investigation into an alleged abuse of dominance in the pharmaceutical sector on the grounds of administrative priority.  The investigation concerned discounts and rebates granted by a dominant company and the CMA has sent a warning letter to the party to the investigation identifying potential concerns that may arise in this context.  The party has not been identified.  Click here.
  • The CMA has published an update on its investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in the hotel online booking sector. The CMA has noted the announcement by Booking.com BV that from 1 July 2015 it will abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies in its terms with all accommodation partners across Europe, including in the UK. The update states that this is a significant development, which the CMA is considering closely.  Click here.
  • The CMA is considering undertakings offered by Müller to address competition concerns in relation to its acquisition of Dairy Crest’s dairy operations.  Click here.