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Focus Antitrust - 9 December 2015

9 December 2015

In The News

European Commission sends two Statements of Objections on exclusivity payments and predatory pricing to Qualcomm

The European Commission has sent two Statements of Objections to Qualcomm in separate investigations, outlining the Commission's preliminary view that the company has abused a dominant position in the worldwide markets for 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) baseband chipsets, in breach of Article 102. The Commission considers that Qualcomm may have illegally paid a major customer for exclusively using its chipsets and sold chipsets below cost with the aim of forcing a competitor out of the market. Click here.

CMA opens investigation into online sales of discretionary consumer products

The CMA has opened an investigation into suspected anti-competitive arrangements relating to UK online sales of licensed sport and entertainment merchandise and other consumer products. As part of its investigation, the CMA conducted searches on 1 December 2015 at the headquarters of a UK company, Trod Limited, as well as the domestic premises of one of its officers. Click here.

CMA opens investigation into discounting in the pharmaceutical sector

The CMA has opened an investigation into a suspected abuse of a dominant position related to discounts offered for a pharmaceutical product. The CMA has not disclosed any further details of the investigation at this stage. Click here.


Articles 101 and 102
  • The European Commission has decided to close its investigation into 13 investment banks in relation to the credit default swaps market. On 1 July 2013 the Commission adopted a Statement of Objections against Markit, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and 13 investment banks. The Statement of Objections raised preliminary concerns that all parties had coordinated to foreclose from the credit default swaps market Deutsche Börse in 2007 and Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2008. The Commission has indicated that the evidence was not sufficiently conclusive to confirm the Commission's concerns with regards to the 13 investment banks. However, the Commission's investigation regarding Markit and ISDA is ongoing. Click here.
  • An Advocate General's opinion has been handed down on whether an undertaking could be held liable for participation in bid-rigging, where the unlawful conduct was carried out without the undertaking’s knowledge by an independent third party in charge of preparation of the tender and acting on behalf of the undertaking. The Advocate General has suggested that there should be a rebuttable presumption that an undertaking is liable in these circumstances. Click here.
  • The European Commission has opened a formal investigation in the biofuels sector concerning ethanol benchmarks. The Commission is investigating whether three ethanol producers have manipulated ethanol benchmarks published by a price reporting agency. Click here.
  • The European Commission has confirmed that on 24 November 2015 its officials carried out unannounced inspections in the sector of rail passenger transport and related services in Austria. The Commission has indicated that it has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The investigation relates to alleged anti-competitive practices aimed at excluding competing rail passenger transport operators from the market. Click here.
  • The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of Cytec by Solvay. The Commission found that the merger would eliminate a significant competitive force in the market for phosphor-based solvent extractants, used to separate cobalt from nickel. The decision is therefore conditional on Solvay divesting its activities in phosphor-based solvent extraction. Click here.
  • The European Commission has decided not to refer the planned acquisition of Telefónica UK by Hutchison to the CMA. The Commission concluded that it was better placed to ensure consistency in the application of merger control rules in the mobile telecommunications sector across the European Economic Area. Click here.
  • The European Commission has accepted the CMA’s request for it to investigate the anticipated acquisition by Amadeus IT Group S.A of Navitaire LLC. Click here.


  • The CMA has announced that Pearson VUE’s anticipated acquisition of the computer-based testing business of learndirect will be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation unless undertakings are offered. Click here.
  • The CMA has announced that it will look in detail at the undertakings offered by Regus in relation to its completed acquisition of Avanta. The CMA has concerns that the acquisition could lead to higher prices and/or a reduction in choice and quality for customers of serviced office space in the Hammersmith, Victoria, Canary Wharf/Docklands, Euston/King’s Cross and Paddington areas of central London. As a result, Regus has offered to sell the Avanta centres located in these areas. Click here.
  • The CMA is consulting on a proposed undertaking in lieu of a reference for BCA Marketplace’s acquisition of SMA Vehicle Remarketing. The undertaking involves BCA selling an auction site in Newcastle to a suitable buyer. Click here.

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