2018 in review: a selection of European competition law developments of interest (part II)

Posted by Chantal Lavoie on 31 December 2018


1.08.2018 Opening of Phase 2 for Wieland’s acquisition of Aurubis Rolled Products and Schwermetall

Wieland proposes to acquire Aurubis’ rolled products business and Schwermetall, a JV between Wieland and Aurubis. Interestingly, this is the second case the Commission is currently reviewing in the same sector, after opening a Phase 2 investigation on 23 July 2018 in the proposed KME/MKM acquisition.  As per the KME/MKM notification, the parties submitted commitments in Phase 1 which were ultimately rejected by the Commission as insufficient. 

Combined with the KME/MKM review, this case is particularly interesting in that (i) the Commission has identified preliminary concerns in relation to billets which are used as input in the manufacturing of copper tubes; (ii) the parties to this acquisition are considered the top two suppliers of rolled copper products in a market further concentrated as a result of KME’s proposed acquisition of MKM which was notified prior to this case; (iii) access to pre-rolled strip is a common concern both in this case and in KME/MKM where Schwermetall and MKM are suppliers.

As this case was notified after KME/MKM, the Commission is expected to follow its ‘priority rule’ in which case Wieland may be disadvantaged since the Commission’s assessment would take into account the effect of the merger on the markets at the date of this notification which should therefore include the previously notified KME/MKM deal.   This should be the case regardless in which order the Commission finalises its in-depth review of both deals. This situation is reminiscent of the Western Digital/Hitachi deal which was notified in 2011 a day after Seagate/Samsung.  A decision was expected by 10 December 2018.

Adoption of the decision has since been delayed to 7.02.2019, following submission by the parties of a new set of commitments on 3.12.2018.  In the meantime, the European Commission however cleared on 11 December 2018 - in phase II and without conditions - the acquisition of MKM by KME in the same sector of activity.  This latter transaction was assessed based on the situation existing at the time of notification and therefore prior to the filing of Wieland’s proposed acquisition.

20.08.2018  Praxair/Linde cleared with conditions

This is the key merger case cleared this summer.  Notified at the beginning of this year, deadline for clearance was extended and suspended on several occasions during the merger review following the submission of commitments in Phase 2 and Commission requests for information. 

This four-to-three merger would have created the largest player in the European gas industry, with only three other major competitors left as suitable alternative suppliers.  This gave rise to competition concerns in the markets for industrial gases, medical gases, specialty gases and helium where these gases are key inputs for a wide range of products.  Commitments consisted in an extensive set of divestments: (i) an upfront buyer remedy whereby Praxair’s entire gas business in the EEA will be sold to a suitable buyer, including helium contracts to satisfy demand in the EEA.  Taiyo Nippon Sanso is reported to be in the running to acquire this business.  This would ensure the continued presence of four competitors in the European gas market; (ii) a fix-it first remedy whereby Praxair sells its stake in SIAD (an Italian JV active in CEE and Italy) to Flow Fin, its joint venture partner (iii) an upfront buyer remedy whereby the divestment of additional helium sourcing contracts will be sold to suitable buyers to address further concerns regarding access to sources of helium.

The merger was cleared by the US FTC on 22 October 2018 subject to divestiture of certain business activities by 29.01.2019 and related commitments.

31.08.2018   Hutchison/Wind Tre cleared with conditions

In another case cleared in Phase 1 with conditions, Hutchison’s sole acquisition of Wind Tre from VimpelCom required structural remedies to address competition concerns in the Italian retail mobile market.  Notwithstanding the entry of Iliad in this market in 2016 (as a condition to clearance of the Wind Tre JV created in 2016 by Hutchison and VimpelCom), the Commission concluded in this 2018 review that market circumstances have not changed significantly since 2016 and therefore that the same concerns would arise if the 2016 commitments - which are still being implemented - would cease to be implemented.   In a uniquely-tailored solution approved by the Commission, Hutchison offered to assume responsibility for complying with the 2016 commitments, thereby releasing VimpelCom from its obligations as parent of Wind Tre.


06.09.2018 European Commission clears unconditionally in phase II the proposed merger of Apple/Shazam

The European Commission's phase II referral of the Apple/Shazam proposed merger raised interesting issues: 1. This is a vertical merger which typically would be less likely to raise concerns, save in tech/digital markets which is a notable exception. 2. This is another enforcement gap case where the Commission would not have had jurisdiction were it not for the Austrian request for referral. Will this case refuel the debate for introducing a value-based threshold? 3. Will Apple obtain access to commercially sensitive data on its competitors as a result of the merger? Interesting case because of the focus not on the size of the data itself but rather on its commercially sensitive nature and whether it places competitors at a competitive disadvantage.

The acquisition was cleared unconditionally after a phase II investigation. Whilst viewed as essentially a complementary merger, the Commission had a close look at concerns arising from the combination of data and the risk of eliminating competitors. The Commission also considered whether access to Shazam's commercially sensitive data would give Apple an unfair advantage by allowing it to successfully target competitors' customers. The fact that the data was not unique and Shazam's limited importance as an entry point to music streaming were important factors leading to clearance.


18.09.2018 European Commission investigation into collusion by German car manufacturers in relation to clean emission technology

The Commission is investigating several car manufacturers for possible collusion relating to technical development for reduced car emissions. However joint discussions which also took place on technical topics aimed at improving product quality are reported to be outside the scope of the investigation. This is a useful clarification which provides some comfort to businesses that no all joint discussions between competitors are bad. The Commission appears to draw a bright line between cooperation aimed at limiting technical development and joint discussions aimed at improving product quality which should not be caught by competition rules.

20.09.2018  Court of Justice upholds Commission decision to reject complaint (Case C-373/17 P Agria Polska)

The judgment confirms the Commission’s wide discretion to reject a complaint based on lack of Union interest.  Interestingly in this case, the complaint was made to the European Commission after the national competition authority rejected the original complaint on grounds of expiry of the national limitation period.  The complainant argued that 13 plant protection producers and distributors, with the assistance of professional organisations and a law firm, had colluded to call into question the lawfulness of the complainant’s commercial activities before the Austrian and Polish administrative and criminal authorities.  The complainant was subject as a result to numerous inspections and ultimately fines and prohibition to market certain plant protection products.  The following findings are worth noting: (i) the Commission’s refusal to open an investigation did not deprive Articles 101 and 102 TFEU of their practical effect; it was still open to the parties to resort to national courts to assert their rights under articles 101 or 102 TFEU; (ii) although there was evidence of coordination between the parties, the Court of Justice upheld the General Court’s conclusion that ‘it could be legitimate for those entities to inform the competent national authorities of possible infringements by their competitors’.


26.09.2018 Court of Justice sets aside General Court judgment against Infineon in smart card chips cartel (Case 99/17 P Infineon Technologies)

The judgment concerns the smart card chips cartel where 4 companies had been found to coordinate their pricing policy.  Two of the companies, Infineon and Philips, appealed the Commission’s decision but the General Court dismissed both actions.  On appeal, the Court of Justice accepted Infineon’s claim that, for purposes of assessing the gravity of the infringement and therefore for setting the amount of the fine, the General Court should have reviewed each of the 11 bilateral contacts which Infineon was alleged to have been involved in – not just 5 of the 11 bilateral contacts referred to by the Commission in its decision.  The Court of Justice referred the case back to the General Court.  As regards Philips, its appeal was dismissed.


27.09.2018  General Court rejects EAEPC appeal as complaint in relation to a dual pricing scheme operated by GSK (Case T-574/14 EAEPC)

The General Court upheld a 2014 Commission decision rejecting EAEPC’s complaint of 1999 for lack of sufficient Union interest, in particular because GSK’s alleged illegal conduct had ceased several years ago, there were no continuing effects on the market and national competition authorities and courts had taken up the matter.  Interestingly the Commission’s decision was preceded by ECJ and GC judgments.  The General Court concluded that the Commission did take the necessary measures to comply with these judgments and that it was not obliged pursuant to these judgments to act on EAEPC’s complaint without regard to whether there was a sufficient Union interest.



08.10.2018 UK CMA publishes study on algorithms to facilitate collusion and personalised pricing

The role of algorithms in online markets is being widely debated as a possible tool to facilitate collusion.  In this economic study, the CMA finds that pricing algorithms could lead to tacit coordination, in particular where competing suppliers use the same algorithm supplied by a third party. 


18.10.2018 General Court annuls Commission 2016 fining decision in the heat stabilisers cartel

The Heat Stabilisers cartel saga continues with the annulment yesterday by the General Court of the Commission's 2016 fining decision. This is the second time that the General court annuls the Commission's decisions in this matter. The General Court annulled in 2015 the Commission's revised fining decision of 2010. In yesterday's judgment, the General Court held that the Commission breached the principle of equal treatment enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights: the Commission did not treat equally the applicant GEA (a successor to one of the companies fined in the heat stabilisers cartel) in its 2016 fining decision which had reduced the amount of one of the two fines initially imposed on ACW because the total fine had exceeded the 10% ceiling. By opting to reduce the fine in relation to which ACW and GEA were jointly and severally liable - and not the fine in relation to which ACW, GEA and CPA were jointly and severally liable - the Commission placed GEA at a disadvantage compared to CPA. The Commission should have spread the reduction in fine equally across both fines in order not to advantage CPA to the detriment of GEA.


19.10.2018  Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub cleared in phase I

The European Commission cleared in Phase 1 Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub in markets where sufficient competition was found to exist (tools for software development). Also, the Commission found that GitHub's open nature was not at risk.


30.10.2018  European Commission opens phase II investigation into Tata Steel/ThyssenKrupp JV

The European Commission's decision this week to open a phase II investigation into the proposal by Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp to set up a joint venture is worth highlighting for several reasons: (i) the proposed JV would create the second largest European steel producer; it will be interesting to see whether the creation of a European steel champion against the international backdrop of recently imposed US steel tariffs and problems of overcapacity could weigh in on the competition law analysis (ii) the preliminary concerns of the Commission focus on the impact on customers in the automotive, packaging and electrical steel sectors, interestingly given the presence of many SMEs, presumably with more limited buyer power; (iii) could the parties' decision to create a JV - instead of an acquisition/merger - be viewed upon as having less harmful effects and therefore ease the way for clearance? The creation of a JV may not entirely remove the parents as potential competitors and could be viewed more favourably (vi) the Commission has until 19 March 2019 to decide on the case. If there are no deadline extensions, the JV with assets inter alia in the UK may be able to close prior to the scheduled date for the UK to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

After announcing a deadline extension of 5 working days, the deadline has now been suspended since 30.11.2018.  It is possible therefore that a decision will only be adopted after 29 March 2019.


31.10.2018 UK Competition Authority clears CME’s acquisition of NEX

The UK competition authority opened on 13.09.2018 an investigation into the proposed acquisition by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) of NEX (previously ICAP). Largely complementary, the acquisition combines CME's strong position in derivatives trading - including US Treasuries (UST) futures - with NEX's fixed income trading business - including cash US Treasuries (USTs). The deal was also reviewed by US Department of Justice and was concluded without any action taken.

Following the failed attempt last year at a cross-border merger in financial markets (DB/LSE merger prohibited by the European Commission), the CMA's review is of interest, in particular as regards market definition, competitive constraints and potential foreclosure effects. The CMA’s assessment focused on the provision of electronic platforms for the trading of fixed income financial instruments where the parties overlap with CME Globex (a platform for trading US Treasury securities futures) and BrokerTec (a platform for trading cash US Treasury securities).  As expected, cash USTs and futures USTs were not generally found to be substitutes.  In addition CME and NEX were not found to exercise a competitive constraint on each other, in particular with respect to trading fees charged.  As a result, the merger did not give rise to a risk of lessening of competition based on horizontal unilateral effects.  In addition, no concerns were identified as regards the vertical and conglomerate effects of the merger.  Of particular interest was the CMA’s assessment of CME’s inability to foreclose FICC, the clearing house for cash USTs, in particular given the CME’s lack of regulatory approval to clear cash USTs and FICC’s set up which give its members the power to keep FICC as the preferred clearing house and prevent CME from requiring BrokerTec trades to be cleared to CME’s own clearing house.



06.11.2018 Disney’s acquisition of parts of Fox approved conditionally by European Commission

Disney's acquisition of part of Fox was today cleared with conditions in phase I by the European Commission. Targeted commitments were offered by Disney to address concerns regarding 'factual channels' where the parties were viewed as strong suppliers. Disney will divest all its interests in factual channels which it controls with Hearst via a JV. Query whether the supply of 'factual channels' was viewed as a separate market from the wholesale supply of TV channels. Factual channels are those that broadcast documentaries or scientific themes e.g. National Geographic channels. We'll know more when the decision is available. Interestingly both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox continue to be under investigation by the Commission along with other major US studios (except Paramount who offered commitments in 2016 to settle the case) and pay-TV broadcasters in relation to 'geo-blocking allegations in licensing arrangements.


09.11.2018 Disney submits commitments in pay-TV investigation

Interesting timing: The Commission is seeking feedback on commitments submitted by Disney in connection with the pay-TV investigation, in the same week that it conditionally cleared Disney's acquisition of parts of Fox. Disney is only the second party after Paramount to offer commitments in this investigation launched over three years ago. Disney's commitments are reported to be comparable to those of Paramount submitted in 2016 i.e. licenses for the output of films will no longer contain clauses that prevent EEA pay-TV broadcasters from responding to unsolicited requests from EEA consumers located outside the broadcaster's licensed territory (or clauses that impose that obligation on the studio in licensing agreements with EEA broadcasters). Interestingly Disney's commitments will run for the same 5-year period as those of Paramount, with the consequence that Paramount will no longer be subject to those commitments as of July 2021 whilst Disney will still have at least two years to go. Of course this does not mean that Paramount will be able to reintroduce similar clauses but there will be scope to do so based on Paramount's own assessment of competition law risks at that point in time.


13.11.2018  UK competition authority launches investigation into financial services sector

The UK CMA's general announcement of an investigation launched into 'anti-competitive practices in the financial services sector' is short of content. It is unfortunate that no further information was provided regarding the scope of the investigation as it creates uncertainty and speculation in a highly sensitive market. Let's hope the CMA will soon provide some additional information on the product or business segment it is investigating.

The initial investigation is due to run until August 2019.  In the meantime, the European Commission launched on 20.12.2018 an investigation into a suspected bonds trading cartel.  One can only speculate whether these two investigations are related.


23.11.2018 European Commission opens investigation into airline ticket distribution

Airline ticket distribution under review by the European Commission. The investigation will focus on whether the terms in Amadeus and Sabre contracts with airlines and travel agents make it difficult for the latter to use alternative suppliers. Yet another case focusing on vertical agreements; a sign that the Commission is clearly prioritising enforcement in this area and not leaving it only to national competition authorities.


27.11.2018 Commission clears T-Mobile NL’s acquisition of Tele2 NL

In a bold move, the European Commission cleared without commitments a four to three merger in the Dutch retail mobile telecommunications market. 

This is one of the rare four to three mergers in the telecoms sector to receive unconditional clearance.  Key reasons relied upon by the Commission for approval of the deal: (i) unlikely significant price increases resulting from merger due to limited market share of combined entities (25%) and small increment from Tele2 NL (5%) and uncertain role of Tele2 NL as a competitive force; (ii) unlikely coordination between the remaining three parties in market due to differing strategies; and (iii) ‘any potential change in conditions for virtual mobile network operators’ relying on the remaining three mobile network operators for wholesale access terms ‘would not have a serious impact on the level of competition in the Dutch mobile telecoms market’. 

This unconditional clearance decision is surprising given the Commission’s harsher stance to date in relation to four-to-three mergers.  The specific circumstances of the Dutch market and the uncertainty regarding Tele2 NL’s role as a stand-alone player might have weighed in the balance.  The published decision – not available yet - will also be an interesting read as regards the vertical and conglomerate effects of the merger on virtual mobile network operators.


29.11.2018  German cartel office opens investigation into Amazon’s terms of business and practices on German online marketplace

The German competition authority has just launched an investigation into Amazon. There are several reasons to take a close interest in this case: (i) it is unique in that it complements the European Commission's own preliminary (not yet formal) investigation over how Amazon is using data from third-party sellers; as a matter of process it is somewhat surprising to have references being made to a European Commission investigation in the absence of a formal investigation having been launched; going forward, close cooperation is to be expected to ensure there is no overlap between each authority's area of interest; (ii) the German competition authority's investigation will focus on a different issue: Amazon's terms of business and practices towards sellers on the German marketplace, in the context of Amazon being both the largest retailer and the largest marketplace in Germany; (iii) market definition will be key to the investigation, namely whether there exists a specific market for marketplace services for online sales to consumers.



04.12.2018  Visa and MasterCard offer commitments on inter-regional interchange fees

This case is the latest in a series of investigations by the European Commission into interchange fees.  Previous investigations related to interchange fees on cross-border transactions in the EEA which culminated in the adoption of the Interchange Fees Regulation capping interchange fees for cards issued and used in Europe and applicable since December 2015. 

This investigation concerns another type of interchange fee i.e. interchange fees applied to payments made in the EEA using cards issued outside the EEA, so-called inter-regional interchange fees.  Such interchange fees are outside the scope of the Interchange Fees Regulation. 

The commitments offered by MasterCard and Visa set a cap on inter-regional interchange fees.  The cap for card payments carried out in a shop ( 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards) is the same as under the Interchange Fees Regulation.  However a higher cap of 1.15% for debit cards and 1.50% for credit cards applies for online card payments.  The Commission is currently seeking views from the market on the commitments.  If found to address the Commission’s concerns, the commitments will apply within six months of the Commission decision making the commitments legally binding. 


07.12.2018 Commitments imposed on TenneT

Opened in March 2018, this investigation was concluded in less than a year by Commission decision making legal binding the commitments offered by TenneT.  The commitments ensure that capacity will be increased on the electricity interconnector between Western Denmark and Germany and address concerns that cheaper electricity from the Nordic countries could not be exported to Germany.  No fine is reported to have been imposed.


11.12.2018 Commission clears with conditions the acquisition of Spectrum Brands’ batteries and portable lighting business by Energizer

Remedies are worth noting in this case.   The European Commission expressed concerns regarding this proposed acquisition which would have created the largest supplier of different types of consumer batteries.  Energizer offered to divest Spectrum Brands’ Varta business in the EMEA region.   In addition an additional behavioural remedy - an exclusive supply and license agreement to be entered into by Energizer and the Varta business purchaser for the sale of Rayovac-branded hearing aid batteries - was put in place to allow the purchaser of the Varta business to develop afterwards its own hearing aid battery business.


12.12.2018  General Court judgments reject Commission’s market definition and annul finding of  abuse of dominant position (Case T-691/14 Servier and 7 other judgments)

The General Court gave today 8 judgments in relation to the Commission's decisions finding anti-competitive agreements and an abuse of a dominant position in the perindopril market. The General Court annulled and reduced part of the fines imposed on Servier in relation to some agreements. The General Court also rejected the market definition adopted by the Commission for purposes of its assessment under article 102 TFEU, thereby finding that the Commission was incorrect in finding that Servier held a dominant position.  As a result and in a rare occurrence, the General Court annulled the Commission’s portion of the decision and fine imposed on Servier under 102.

The case concerned several settlement agreements which Servier had entered into with generic companies by which they would refrain from entering the perindopril market or challenging Servier’s patent.  The Commission’s infringement decision was  based on both Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.  Key findings of the General Court are that: (i) except for the agreement with Krka, the settlement agreements between Servier and the generic drug companies were ‘market exclusion’ agreements and therefore amounted to restrictions by object; this is because they consisted in granting advantages to induce these generic drug companies to refrain from entering the market or challenging Servier’s patent; (ii) as regards the agreement between Servier and Krka, the Commission failed to show the existence of a restriction by object (the existence of an inducement was not established as the licensing agreement was entered into at arms’ length) or a restriction by effect (not established that Krka would have entered the markets); (iii) as regards abuse of a dominant position, the Commission defined the market too narrowly (the perindropil molecule alone) and did not take into account sufficiently non-price competitive pressures from other medicines of the same therapeutic class.  Important statements were made by the General Court regarding the protection afforded to IP rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the validity of patent rights and the importance of settlement agreements as an alternative to litigation.


13.12.2018 General Court annuls part of Commission abuse of dominance decision and reduces fines against Slovak Telekom and Deutsche Telekom (T-827/14 Deutsche Telekom and T-851/14 Slovak Telekom)

One day following its annulment of a Commission’s decision under article 102 TFEU (abuse of dominance), the General Court strikes again with a partial annulment of another 102 decision for failure by the Commission to demonstrate exclusionary effects of the margin squeeze abuse.   This is an important judgment from 2018 on the conditions for finding abusive conduct, the application of the as efficient competitor test and the relevant cost calculations in the context of margin squeeze and on  measuring anti-competitive effects.

The Commission adopted an infringement decision against Slovak Telekom for abuse of its dominant position in the Slovak wholesale market for unbundled access to local loops consisting in refusal to provide access and margin squeeze.  Of particular interest are the following findings of the General Court: (i) as regards the Commission’s decision based on refusal of access, the requirement set out in the judgment Bronner to show that access to Slovak Telekom’s local loop was indispensable to allow parties to offer their services on the retail market was not necessary due to the sectoral regulator’s decision that access to the local loop was needed; (ii) as regards margin squeeze, it upheld the Commission’s calculations of Slovak Telekom’s costs (LRAIC) and rejected the appellant’s argument that competitor’s costs should have been taken into account; (iii) the Commission was correct in having recourse to the ‘as efficient competitor’ test in assessing whether Slovak Telekom’s conduct resulted in margin squeeze; (iv) given the positive margins of Slovak Telekom during the period between August and December 2005, the Commission could not conclude to an abusive pricing practice unless it provided evidence that such pricing practice resulted in exclusionary effects; in doing so, it is not sufficient for the Commission to rely on competitors’ claims of prospective profitability to prove exclusionary effects; although unclear, the judgment does seem to imply that margins exceeding LRAIC (not just AAC) could also be an abusive pricing practice if exclusionary effects can be shown; and (v) the  Commission’s assessment of the actual exercise of decisive influence by Deutsche Telekom over Slovak Telekom was correct.  Of relevance were the presence of Deutsche Telekom managers on the board of Slovak Telekom, the provision of staff by the parent to Slovak Telekom, the regular reporting by Slovak Telekom to the parent of its commercial policy and the preparatory notes prepared by Deutsche Telekom for non-executive members in advance of board meetings of Slovak Telekom. 


17.12.2018 BEH Group fined for abuse of dominant position in gas infrastructure market in Bulgaria

The European Commission fined the BEH Group EUR 77 million for blocking access to wholesale gas suppliers to key gas infrastructure in Bulgaria.  BEH Group was found to hold a dominant position in both the gas infrastructure markets via Bulgartransgaz and the gas supply market via Bulgargaz in Bulgaria. 

The investigation was opened in 2013 during the previous Commissioner’s mandate.


17.12.2018 European Commission fines Guess EUR 39.8 million for geo-blocking and clarifies procedure for rewarding cooperation in antitrust cases

Guess had been under investigation since June 2017 following concerns of geo-blocking i.e. restricting retailers from selling cross-border to consumers within the EEA.  The Commission concluded that Guess’ selective distribution agreements (i) did restrict authorised retailers with respect to online search advertising, online sales, selling outside an allocated territory, cross-selling and deciding on the retail price; and (ii) allowed Guess to partition markets, noting that retail prices are 5-10% higher in CEE countries than in Western Europe. 

Guess’ fine was reduced by 50% as a result of its cooperation, in particular by disclosing the online search advertising restriction which was not yet known to the Commission at  the time.   Reducing fines for cooperation in antitrust cases (other than cartels) is not provided for in European Commission notices.  Nevertheless the Commission has already granted a reduction in fines in two other antitrust (non-cartel) cases to date.  With this decision, the Commission has now produced a ‘fact sheet’ which provides some guidance on the terms and conditions applicable to reward cooperation in antitrust cases.  Some of the features of the cooperation which appear relevant in setting the reduction in fine are: (i) whether the undertaking acknowledged liability before or after the statement of objections; (ii) whether the undertaking provided additional evidence representing significant added value; (ii) whether the undertaking waived certain procedural rights; (iv)  whether the undertaking cooperated on remedies. 


20.12.2018  European Commission opens cartel investigation into trading of SSA bonds

A few weeks after the UK CMA announced an investigation into the financial services sector, the European Commission announced today an investigation into an alleged cartel by four banks in connection with the trading of US dollar supra-sovereign, sovereign and agency bonds (SSA bonds).  The Commission has not disclosed the names of the entities under investigation.  However, Deutsche Bank (reported not to be expecting a financial penalty), Credit Suisse and Crédit Agricole have indicated that they are cooperating with the investigation.  The Commission has expressed concerns regarding the use of chatrooms to exchange commercially sensitive information and coordinate on prices in the trading of SSA bonds.

It is unclear whether there is any connection between this investigation and the UK CMA’s investigation into financial services which may also focus on bond trading.  The UK CMA has not provided further details on the scope of its investigation.


21.12.2018  Pay-TV investigation: remaining parties submit proposed commitments

After Paramount in 2016 and Disney last month, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, and Sky have now offered commitments to address the European Commission’s concerns relating to contractual clauses in film licensing contracts between the six major film studios and Sky UK preventing the cross-border provision of pay-TV services.  The commitments offered are reported to be comparable to those offered by Paramount and Disney and will apply for a period of five years.




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