The Competition Authority recently published its report for 2015, in which it details its activities, main achievements and relevant metrics for that year.(1) According to the report, 2015 was a busy and successful year for the authority in the context of antitrust and merger control.

Antitrust inquiries

Regarding antitrust, the authority adopted three decisions concerning restrictive conduct which involved – for the first time since 2009 – fines totalling approximately €20.5 million. The decisions concerned:

  • an abuse of a dominant position, which resulted in a fine of €10.34 million;
  • vertical restraints, which resulted in a fine of €9.29 million; and
  • a restrictive agreement and concerted practices, which resulted in a fine of €832,000.

The Competition Authority also adopted its first decisions concerning infringements for failing to provide information or providing false, inaccurate or incomplete information, collecting a total of €400,000 in fines.

The report also highlights three closing decisions regarding antitrust investigations, in which the authority accepted remedies and conditions proposed by the parties concerned. Two of the decisions were related to the automotive sector, while the third concerned football broadcasting rights and advertising rights at football stadiums.

The report noted that in 2015 the authority substantially reduced waiting times for the evaluation and investigation of antitrust cases. According to the report, in January 2015 the authority had 17 open inquiries, all of which related to antitrust cases, including:

  • four potential abuses of a dominant position; and
  • 13 alleged restrictive or concerted practices or decisions of associations of undertakings.

In total, eleven inquiries were closed by the authority in 2015 and 10 new inquiries were opened. Overall, 2015 ended with 16 ongoing inquiries, including:

  • three potential abuses of a dominant position; and
  • 13 inquiries concerning alleged restrictive or concerted practices or decisions of associations of undertakings.

As regards judicial decisions in antitrust cases, the report notes that there was an 80% success rate in the 10 cases decided by the courts in 2015.

Merger control

In the context of merger control, and in comparison to 2014, the report highlights a 39.5% increase in notified mergers and a 61.5% increase in adopted decisions. Further, there were 60 notified operations and the authority adopted 63 decisions, 92% of which were of non-opposition.

The report also states that the authority doubled its target of requests for pre-notification assessment, having assessed 30 requests, 18 of which resulted in merger filings.

Comment

The Competition Authority established ambitious goals for 2015 in several areas, particularly antitrust. Considering the report's assessment, it is fair to say that 2015 was a successful year for the authority.

The present board – in office since September 2013 – has introduced a new dynamic to the authority's activities and 2015 was no exception. As noted above, the report's main metrics reflect an increase in comparison to 2014. The authority is becoming more active and faster in its evaluation and investigation of antitrust cases and has provided a positive response regarding merger control, considering the substantial increase in the number of notified concentrations.

The authority's 2015 success rate in the context of antitrust cases that resulted in judicial proceedings also suggests that it conducted more in-depth investigations and adopted well-reasoned decisions, as the majority of its decisions were upheld by the courts in 2015.

Overall, the Competition Authority's response time and practice have improved, which is a clear indicator that it is becoming a more effective and efficient supervisory body.

For further information on this topic please contact Dzhamil Oda and Leonor Bettencourt Nunes at Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados by telephone (+351 21 381 74 00) or email (d.oda@mlgts.pt and lbnunes@mlgts.pt). The Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados website can be accessed at www.mlgts.pt.

Endnotes

(1) For details of the report in Portuguese please see here.

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