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Focus Antitrust - 6 November 2013

In the News

European Commission opens Phase II merger investigation into joint venture between INEOS and Solvay

The European Commission has opened an in-depth merger investigation into the planned combination of the European chlorovinyls businesses of INEOS of Switzerland and Solvay of Belgium in a newly created joint venture. The Commission's preliminary investigation indicated potential competition concerns in the markets for suspension polyvinyl chloride (S-PVC) and sodium hypochlorite (bleach), where both Solvay and Ineos are key players. The parties offered commitments, but the Commission considered that they failed to provide a sufficiently clear-cut solution to eliminate the Commission's concerns. 

OFT decides it has no grounds to take action in CH Jones bunker fuel case

The OFT has concluded that it has no grounds to take action against fuel card operator CH Jones over alleged abuse of dominance. The OFT investigated the firm following a complaint that CH Jones was engaging in exclusionary conduct, the objective of which was to remove competition, including its main rival, from providing diesel bunker cards (direct bunkering cards and pay-as-you-go bunker cards) to lorry operators. Having issued a Statement of Objections, the OFT reassessed the evidence and considered representations from CH Jones and the complainant. As a result, the OFT concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate CH Jones' dominance. Therefore, the OFT has decided to close its investigation with a formal finding that on the basis of the information in its possession there are no grounds to take action. 


UK courts
  • The High Court has granted interim injunctions in two cases concerning an alleged refusal to supply banking services to money service businesses by Barclays. The claimants argued that the refusal to supply was contrary to the prohibition on the abuse of a dominant position under Article 102 and the Chapter II prohibition. The High Court found that there was a serious issue to be tried as to whether Barclays has a dominant position, that the question of alleged abuse of any dominance was an issue for trial and that damages would not be an adequate remedy.
  • The Court of Appeal has granted Akzo Nobel permission to appeal against the CAT's judgment that dismissed its challenge against the Competition Commission's decision to prohibit its acquisition of Metlac Holding. 
Competition Appeal Tribunal
  • Hanson and Lafarge Tarmac Holdings Limited have appealed to the CAT against decisions taken by the Competition Commission in the context of the aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete market investigation. Hanson is challenging the Competition Commission's decision to publish its provisional decision on remedies and the addendum to its provisional findings relating to the GGBS market at the same time. Lafarge Tarmac is challenging the Competition Commission's decision to proceed with publishing the provisional decision on remedies, even though it has requested access to documents in order to respond to the provisional findings. It has also appealed against the Competition Commission's refusal to grant access to these documents. 
Competition Commission
  • The CC has issued for consultation the draft order implementing the remedies in relation to the completed acquisition by Ryanair Holdings plc of a minority interest in Aer Lingus Group plc. The Competition Commission concluded that Ryanair must reduce its shareholding in Aer Lingus to 5%. This is to be accompanied by obligations on Ryanair not to seek or accept board representation or acquire further shares in Aer Lingus, as well as a requirement to appoint a divestiture trustee. The CC has indicated that it does not expect to make the final order before Ryanair's application for review of the Competition Commission's report to the Competition Appeal Tribunal has been concluded. 


  • The OFT is consulting on whether the acquisition by Swissport France Holding SAS of sole control of Servisair SAS qualifies for a request to be made under Article 9 of the EU Merger Regulation to have the case referred in whole or in part to the UK for investigation under UK merger control rules. 

For more information please contact Paul Stone, Partner

T: +44 (0)20 7203 5110