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Focus Antitrust - 15 July 2015

In The News

European Commission sends Statement of Objections to MasterCard on cross-border rules and inter-regional interchange fees

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to MasterCard, outlining the Commission's preliminary view that MasterCard's rules prevent banks from offering lower interchange fees to retailers based in another EU Member State, where interchange fees may be higher. As a result, the Commission considers that retailers cannot benefit from lower fees elsewhere and competition between banks cross-border may be restricted, in breach of Article 101.  The Statement of Objections also alleges that MasterCard's interchange fees for transactions in the EU using MasterCard cards issued in other regions of the world breach Article 101 by setting an artificially high minimum price for processing these transactions.  Click here.

 European Commission conditionally approves acquisition of Aer Lingus by IAG

The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus by IAG.  IAG is the holding company of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. The Commission had concerns that the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition on several routes and would have prevented Aer Lingus from continuing to provide traffic to the long-haul flights of competing airlines on certain routes.  The clearance decision is therefore conditional on the following commitments: the release of five daily slot pairs at London-Gatwick airport to facilitate the entry of competing airlines on routes from London to both Dublin and Belfast; and Aer Lingus continuing to carry connecting passengers to use the long-haul flights of competing airlines out of London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Amsterdam, Shannon and Dublin.  Click here.


Articles 101 and 102
  • The European Court of Justice has dismissed an appeal by InnoLux against a General Court judgment on its challenge to the European Commission's decision on the liquid crystal display (LCD) cartel.  The ECJ concluded that the Commission was entitled to take into account the sales of finished products incorporating the cartelised LCD panels in setting the fine.  Click here.


  • The Supreme Court has refused an application by Ryanair Holdings to appeal the Court of Appeal judgment upholding the decision of the CMA in relation to Ryanair’s minority stake in Aer Lingus.  Click here.
  • A membership organisation of private consultant ophthalmologists has reached a settlement with the CMA and agreed to pay a fine of £500,000 for breaching competition law, to be reduced to £425,000 if it continues to co-operate.  Click here.
  • The CMA has referred Joseph Ash Limited’s anticipated acquisition of W Corbett & Co (Galvanizing) Limited for an in-depth phase 2 investigation.  Although Joseph Ash Limited offered undertakings, the CMA was not confident that these would achieve as comprehensive a solution as is reasonable and practicable to the substantial lessening of competition.  Click here.