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Focus Antitrust - 22 July 2015

22 July 2015

In The News

European Commission fines members of cargo train operator cartel

The European Commission has imposed fines of €49 million on Express Interfracht, part of the Austrian railway incumbent Österreichische Bundesbahnen, and Schenker, part of the German railway incumbent Deutsche Bahn, for operating a cartel in breach of Article 101 for cargo 'blocktrain' services.  Kühne+Nagel of Switzerland also took part in the cartel but was not fined as it was granted immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel.  The Commission found that the three companies fixed prices and allocated customers for their "Balkantrain" and "Soptrain" services in Europe for nearly eight years.  Click here.

European Commission opens two formal investigations against chipset supplier Qualcomm  

The European Commission has opened two formal investigations into possible abuse of dominance by Qualcomm in the field of baseband chipsets used in consumer electronic devices.  The first will examine whether Qualcomm offered financial incentives to customers on condition that they buy the baseband chipsets exclusively or almost exclusively from Qualcomm. The second will look into whether Qualcomm engaged in 'predatory pricing' by charging prices below costs with a view to forcing its competitors out of the market.  Click here.

European Court of Justice rules on use of injunctions to enforce standard essential patents  

The European Court of Justice has issued its judgment in the Huawei/ZTE case.  The judgment confirms that it can be an abuse of a dominant position for a company holding a standard essential patent to seek an injunction against an alleged infringer, where the dominant company has undertaken to a standard body to grant a licence for the patent on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.  However, it will not be an abuse where, prior to seeking the injunction, the dominant company alerted the alleged infringer of the infringement and, where the alleged infringer wished to conclude a licensing agreement, the dominant company offered a licence on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.  Click here.   


Articles 101 and 102
  • The ECJ has issued a ruling confirming that, where an agreement has an anti-competitive object, the number of people affected by such an agreement is irrelevant when assessing the restriction of competition for the purpose of Article 101.  Click here.
  • The General Court has partially upheld Akzo Nobel's appeal against the European Commission decision in relation to the heat stabilisers cartel.  The Court found that the limitation period had expired in respect of some of the infringements, for which the fines should therefore be annulled.  The Court also reduced the total fines imposed by 1%, because the Commission had reduced the amount of fines on all the other parties due to the excessive duration of the administrative procedure.  Click here.
  • The General Court has upheld appeals by Akzo Nobel and GEA Group AG against the European Commission amendment decisions relating to the heat stabilisers cartels.  Click here.
  • The General Court has issued a number of judgments on the pre-stressing steel cartel appeals, finding that the Commission erred in its calculation of the fine for which it held Ori Martin jointly and severally liable with SLM, by incorrectly taking account of sales achieved in countries not covered by the cartel.  Click here.
  • An Advocate General’s opinion has been issued holding that the concept of a concerted practice covers a situation where several travel agencies use an online booking system and the system administrator posts a notice informing its users that, following the proposals and wishes of the undertakings concerned, the discounts applicable to clients will be restricted to a uniform maximum rate and this is followed by a technical restriction on the choice of discount rates available to the users of the system.  Click here.
  • An Advocate General’s opinion has been issued in the appeals against the European Commission's decision finding a cartel in the Spanish bitumen market. In relation to Galp’s appeal, the Advocate General considered that the General Court had exceeded its jurisdiction by finding an infringement which had not been established by the Commission and so its judgment should be set aside.  Click here.
  • The European Commission has partially referred the Danish Crown/Tican merger to Denmark's competition authority, but has cleared the proposed merger outside Denmark.  Click here.
  • The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of the industrial chocolate business of Archer Daniels Midland by Cargill following a phase 2 investigation.  The Commission's was concerned that the transaction would reduce competition in the market for industrial chocolate and so the approval is conditional on Cargill divesting ADM's industrial chocolate plant in Mannheim.  Click here.
  • The European Commission has opened an in-depth phase 2 investigation into Ball's proposed acquisition of beverage can manufacturer Rexam.  Click here.


  • The Competition Appeal Tribunal has dismissed Ryanair’s application for review of the CMA’s decision that there had been no material change of circumstances since the Competition Commission’s final report concerning Ryanair’s acquisition of a minority shareholding in Aer Lingus Group plc.  The Tribunal held that the CMA was entitled to reach the conclusion that there had been no material change in circumstances and, having done so, rightly decided to implement the remedies that it considered to be comprehensive and proportionate.  Click here.
  • The CMA has announced that Linergy’s acquisition of Ulster Farm By-Products will be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation unless acceptable undertakings are offered.  The CMA has found that the completed acquisition gives rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in the processing of animal by-products from non-fallen stock and fallen stock in Northern Ireland.  Click here.