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Focus Antitrust - 12 November 2014

12 November 2014

In The News

CMA launches market investigation into retail banking

The CMA has decided to conduct an in-depth market investigation into the personal current account and SME retail banking sectors, confirming its provisional decision of 18 July 2014. Having considered the consultation responses to its provisional decision, the CMA continues to have concerns about the effectiveness of competition in these sectors.

These concerns include: low levels of customer switching, limited transparency for customers in making comparisons between banks, continuing barriers to entry and expansion into the sector and very little movement over time in the market shares of the four largest banks. 

The CMA has also decided to conduct a review of the competition undertakings put in place following the Competition Commission’s report in 2002 into SME banking, in order to examine whether any change of circumstances since then warrant their being varied or terminated. This review will be conducted alongside the market investigation. Click here.

European Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Greek gas transmission system operator DESFA by SOCAR

The European Commission has opened a Phase II merger investigation into the proposed acquisition of the Greek gas transmission system operator DESFA by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).  

The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition on the upstream wholesale supply market for natural gas in Greece because it could allow the merged entity to hinder SOCAR's competitors in accessing the Greek gas transmission network. Click here.


Articles 101 and 102
  • The EU Council of Ministers has formally adopted the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on antitrust damages actions. The Directive is intended to help citizens and companies claim damages if they are victims of infringements of Articles 101 and 102.  The Directive is expected to come into force later this year and Member States will then have two years to implement it. Click here.
  • The European Commission has closed proceedings against Ahlstrom and Munksjö in relation to the provision of misleading information in the course of a notification of a transaction under the EU Merger Regulation.  In response to the Statement of Objections sent by the Commission in February, the parties have provided contemporaneous evidence explaining the discrepancies between the estimates provided to the Commission and the parties' internal documents. Click here.



The CMA has decided to consider in detail whether to accept undertakings offered by Immediate Media instead of referring its acquisition of a number of magazines from Future Publishing for a phase 2 merger investigation. Click here.

  • The CMA has decided not to progress its interchange fees investigations towards deciding whether or not to issue statements of objections at the present time. The decision has been reached in light of the European Commission’s proposed interchange fees regulation, which is expected to cap MasterCard’s and Visa’s fees.  Click here.
  • The CMA is inviting comments on a request by BAE Systems plc (formerly British Aerospace plc) to review the undertakings in lieu of reference given to the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under section 75G of the Fair Trading Act 1973 in relation to the acquisition by British Aerospace plc of the Marconi electronic systems business of the General Electric Company plc.  Click here.
  • The CMA has now accepted undertakings in lieu of a reference from Diageo plc in order to remedy competition concerns arising from its shareholding in United Spirits Limited, which brought Diageo’s blended Scotch whisky brand, Bell’s, into the same ownership as Whyte & Mackay’s blended Scotch whisky products.  Click here.
Competition Appeal Tribunal
  • The CAT has varied the terms of the interim relief order in the pay TV case, in order to enable BT to deliver Sky Sports channels to its customers by means of IPTV.  Click here.
Other UK courts
  • The High Court has granted applications by Visa for strike out of actions brought by a number of retailers for damages arising from breaches of EU and UK competition law in relation to Visa's multilateral interchange fees, where the alleged breaches occurred more than six years prior to when the actions were brought.
  • The Supreme Court has refused BSkyB's application for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision in the pay TV case. Click here.

This article was written by Paul Stone.  

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