EU Cartels

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismisses Faci’s appeal in heat stabilisers cartel.

On 11 June 2015, the ECJ published an order dismissing a further appeal by Faci SpA against a General Court judgment that rejected its appeal to the European Commission’s (Commission’s) decision on the heat stabilisers cartel. The ECJ found that the appeal was manifestly inadmissible in so far as it sought to challenge the General Court’s findings of fact. In addition, the ECJ found that Faci’s claims that the General Court had erred in its review of the gravity of the infringement and the fine imposed were manifestly unfounded.

EU Mergers

Phase I Mergers

M.7637 LIBERTY GLOBAL / BASE BELGIUM (26 August 2015)

M.7707 CINVEN / SYNLAB (26 August 2015)

M.7730 GROUPE ACTICALL / SITEL WORLDWIDE CORPORATION (21 August 2015)

M.7733 TOKIO MARINE / HCC (19 August 2015)

State Aid

Commission approves further prolongation of Polish bank guarantee scheme. On 24 August 2015, the Commission announced that it has decided, under the state aid rules, to approve the prolongation until 31 December 2015 of a Polish bank guarantee scheme. The scheme covers guarantees and other liquidity support measures in favour of different types of solvent credit institutions in Poland. It was initially approved in September 2009, the pricing conditions were modified in 2012 and the scheme has been extended several times already, most recently in January 2015.

Public Procurement

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announces new procurement requirement for bidders to commit to apprenticeships. On 21 August 2015, BIS announced, as part of a package of measures to boost apprenticeships, that from 1 September 2015 all bids for government contracts worth more than £10 million must demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships. Employers’ bids will be reviewed in line with best practice for the number of apprentices that they expect to support. This change will apply to central government departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies.

UK Competition

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) publishes full infringement decision on anti-competitive conduct in the private ophthalmology sector. On 20 August 2015, the CMA published the full, non-confidential, text of its decision finding that Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership Limited (CESP) had breached the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The CMA identified three infringements that constituted a series of decisions by an association of undertakings, which formed a single and continuous restriction of competition by object. The CMA announced this decision, having reached settlement with CESP, earlier in August 2015.

Speeches & Publications

CMA publishes results of follow-up surveys on small and medium businesses’ (SME) behaviour in retail banking market investigation. On 20 August 2015, the CMA published the results of three follow-up surveys with previous respondents to the main Charterhouse Business Banking Survey in the retail banking market investigation, together with a technical summary of the follow-on surveys. The survey found that the majority of SMEs take out their business current account with their personal bank provider. It also found that the most important factor for start-ups when choosing their business current account is the offer of free banking. The survey also considered the behaviour and decision-making process of SMEs when applying for finance.

Cabinet Office consults on transposing new Concessions Directive and Utilities Directive. On 21 August 2015, the Cabinet Office published consultations on the transposition of Directive 2014/23 on the award of concession contracts (the Concessions Directive) and Directive 2014/25 on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors and repealing Directive 2004/17 (the New Utilities Directive). The Cabinet Office has published draft Concessions Contracts Regulations 2016 and Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016.