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Focus Antitrust - 10 September 2014

10 September 2014

In The News

European Commission fines smart card chip producers for anticompetitive conduct

The European Commission has fined Infineon, Philips, Samsung and Renesas a total of €138 million for breaching Article 101 TFEU by co-ordinating their market behaviour for smart card chips in the EEA.

The companies colluded through a network of bilateral contacts to determine their responses to customers' requests to lower prices as well as exchanging sensitive commercial information on pricing, customers, contract negotiations, production capacity or capacity utilisation and their future market conduct.

General Court annuls Commission decision refusing MasterCard access to third party documents

The General Court has delivered its judgment on MasterCard’s action to seek the annulment of the European Commission’s decision refusing to grant MasterCard access to certain third party documents in respect of a study of the costs and benefits to merchants of accepting different payment methods.

Having found that the Commission had not provided sufficient evidence in its refusal decision to show how disclosure of the requested documents would seriously undermine its decision-making process, the General Court annulled the Commission's decision and has allowed MasterCard's appeal. 


European Courts
  • The ECJ has delivered its judgment on an appeal by companies in the YKK group against a judgment of the General Court that dismissed their appeal against the European Commission's decision on the fasteners cartel.
  • The ECJ considered that the General Court had incorrectly interpreted Article 23(2) of Regulation 1/2003 in respect of the fine imposed for one cartel infringement. However, the General Court had not erred in concluding that the Commission had been entitled to impose a multiplier for deterrence based on the economic strength of the entire YKK group. 
  • AG Wathelet has given his opinion on the European Commission’s appeal against a General Court judgment that reduced the fine imposed on Parker ITR Srl and Parker-Hannifin Corp for participation in the marine hose cartel.
Articles 101 and 102
  • Details of an appeal by Faci SpA to the ECJ against a General Court judgment dismissing its Faci’s action to challenge the European Commission's heat stabilisers cartel decision have been published in the Official Journal. Faci alleges that by not examining the gravity of the infringement after November 1996, and in failing to conduct an effective and in-depth review of the Commission's decision, the General Court erred in law.
  • Details of appeals by VISCAS, Brugg Kabel, Furukawa Electric, Fujikura and Sumitomo Electric Industries and J-Power Systems, who were fined by the European Commission for their participation in the power cables cartel, have been published in the Official Journal. The applicants claim that the Commission erred both in its assessment of the infringement of Article 101 TFEU, and in respect of the fine imposed.
  • Following a Phase II investigation, the European Commission has approved the acquisition by Cemex of the Spanish operations of Holcim. The Commission considers that the merged entity will continue to face sufficient competition in affected grey cement markets in eastern Spain. Further, the Commission did not consider that the transaction would be likely to facilitate any possible co-ordination in the grey cement markets in central Spain to an extent that would raise competition concerns.


  • The CMA has accepted binding commitments from Epyx Limited and its parent company FleetCor Technologies, Inc. In order to address competition concerns regarding its conduct in the market for the supply of service, maintenance and repair platforms in the UK, Epyx will remove certain provisions from its contracts with demand side and supply side customers that could have potentially restricted competition by raising barriers to entry and foreclosing competitors' access to customers.
  • The CMA has published a revised draft of the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 for consultation. The purpose of the Order is to remedy the adverse effects on competition arising from high barriers to entry and expansion and weak competitive constraints on private hospitals in many local markets.
  • The CMA has published a notice of its intention to conduct a customer survey as part of the energy market investigation, to inform its work on the theory of harm that energy suppliers face weak incentives to compete on price and non-price factors in retail markets.

This article was written by Paul Stone.

For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5110 or paul.stone@crsblaw.com.