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Focus Antitrust - 9 July 2014

In the News

Supreme Court hands down judgment in calls to 08 numbers appeal

The Supreme Court has upheld BT’s appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which found that it was not fair and reasonable for BT to introduce laddered charges for terminating calls to 08 numbers. BT’s charges were originally referred as a dispute to Ofcom which held they were not fair and reasonable.

Ofcom’s decision was overturned by the Competition Appeal Tribunal but then upheld by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, concluding that BT was free to introduce the charges. 

Competition and Markets Authority reopens IRI/Aztec merger investigation

The CMA has asked the Competition Appeal Tribunal to remit to it the acquisition by Information Resources Inc of Aztec Group. This follows an application by AC Nielsen for judicial review of the OFT’s decision not to refer the merger for a phase 2 review by the Competition Commission.

Although the CMA initially planned to defend the application, it became clear, following the intervention in the proceedings by IRI, that information not previously made available to the OFT might have a bearing on the OFT’s clearance decision.

In the circumstances, the CMA considered the correct course of action to be for it to re-consider the OFT’s decision not to refer. Both IRI and AC Nielsen consented to the remittal and the CAT has now made an order remitting the OFT’s decision to the CMA. 

European Commission clears acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland, subject to conditions

Following an in-depth Phase II investigation, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland. The approval is conditional on the implementation of a commitments package submitted by Telefónica.

The Commission had concerns that the merger, as initially notified, would have removed two close competitors and important competitive forces from the German mobile telecommunications market and that it would have further weakened the position of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and Service Providers to the detriment of consumers.

The commitments package includes a commitment by Telefónica to sell up to 30% of the merged company's network capacity to up to three MVNOs in Germany at fixed payments and to divest certain spectrum.


  • The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has dismissed the appeal brought by Electrabel SA against the General Court judgment which upheld the European Commission’s decision to fine Electrabel for acquiring control of Compagnie Nationale du Rhone without having received prior approval under the EU Merger Regulation.
  • The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of GrupoCorporativo ONO by Vodafone Group Plc under the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies provide fixed and mobile telecommunications services in Spain. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, as the parties' activities are largely complementary: ONO's main activity is related to fixed telecoms, whereas Vodafone is mainly active in mobile telecoms.


  • The Financial Conduct Authority has published an interim report in its cash savings market study. Its preliminary view is that, while some aspects of the cash savings market are working well, competition does not appear to be working in the interest of many consumers. In particular, its interim research indicates that, because many consumers do not shop around, banks are able to pay lower interest rates to customers that have stayed with the same account for a number of years.

This article was written by Paul Stone.  

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