Appeals by Buzzi Unicem and Italmobiliare against General Court judgment on information request. On 25 August 2014, details were published in the Official Journal of appeals lodged by Buzzi Unicem SpA (OJ 2014 C282/20) and Italmobiliare SpA (OJ 2014 C282/21) against judgments of the General Court that dismissed actions to challenge a European Commission decision requesting information under Article 18 of Regulation 1/2003. The appellants claim that the General Court made a number of errors of law and failed to state its reasons when dismissing their various complaints about the lawfulness and proportionality of the Commission’s information request decision.
Appeals against power cables cartel decision published. On 25 August 2014, details were published of appeals by The Goldman Sachs Group (Case T-419/14) and six other companies who were fined by the Commission for their participation in the power cables cartel. Goldman Sachs claims that the Commission erred in holding it jointly and severally liable for the infringement allegedly committed by Prysmian. The other applicants allege that the Commission made various errors both in the assessment of the infringement of Article 101 of the TFEU and in the fine imposed. Some of the applicants claim that the Commission’s decision should be annulled due to the Commission’s reliance on evidence obtained illegally during inspections.
Phase I Clearance
M.7310 - Rolls Royce / Rolls Royce Power Systems (19.08.2014)
M.7317 - JP Morgan Chase & Co. / Mercuria Energy Group Limited (26.08.2014)
M.7323 - GHD Verwaltung GesundHeits GmbH Deutschland / Nordic Capital (18.08.2014)
M.7331 - Quiver Ventures LLC / Tri-Arrows Aluminum Holding Inc / Constellium NV (26.08.2014)
Commission publishes state aid recovery interest and reference rates from 1 September 2014. On 23 August 2014, a Commission Notice on state aid recovery interest rates and reference/discount rates for all 28 EU member states applicable from 1 September 2014 was published in the Official Journal (OJ 2014 C281/4). The interest rates have been reduced for Romania and Sweden, but remain the same for all other member states. The rates have been published in accordance with Article 10 of Commission Regulation 794/2004 and the base rates calculated in accordance with the Commission’s Communication on the method for setting the reference and discount rates (OJ 2008 C14/6).
CMA accepts final undertakings to implement GGBS remedies in aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete market investigation. On 21 August 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published notices of its acceptance of final undertakings from Hanson and, jointly, from Hanson and Lafarge Tarmac to remedy adverse effects on competition identified in the final report on the aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete market investigation. The CMA consulted on drafts of these undertakings in July 2014. The undertakings have been accepted in the form consulted on without any material changes.
Results of review of tax and public procurement policy. On 26 August 2014, the Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced the results of a review of the policy introduced in 2013 to use public procurement to encourage tax compliance. Under this policy, which has applied since 1 April 2013, suppliers bidding for government contracts with a value of
£5 million or more must self-certify their tax compliance (see HMRC response to consultation on promoting tax compliance through procurement policy and the Cabinet Office’s Procurement Policy Note). HMRC and the Cabinet Office have conducted a review to explore whether the policy is having the intended effect of encouraging tax compliance from government suppliers.
CMA makes initial enforcement order to Capital Management, Pork Farms and Pork Farms Caspian. On 21 August 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it has made an initial enforcement order under section 72 of the Enterprise Act 2002 addressed to Capital Management Limited, Pork Farms Limited and Pork Farms Caspian Limited in relation to the acquisition by Pork Farms Caspian Limited of the chilled savoury pastry business of Kerry Foods Limited. Section 72 of the Enterprise Act, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, allows the CMA to make initial enforcement orders to prevent pre-emptive action in completed (and anticipated) mergers. The order is without prejudice to the CMA’s on- going investigation into this merger.
CMA decision on acquisition by One51 Plastics of Straight Plc. On 18 August 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the full text of its decision on the anticipated
acquisition by One51 Plastics Holdings Limited of Straight Plc. The CMA found that although the parties, individually, have high market shares in relation to some of the overlap products, the market share increments are small. Further, the parties are not close competitors and there will remain other strong competitors who will continue to compete in tenders for the products. The CMA also ruled out the possibility of conglomerate effects resulting from the merger
CMA approves Alliance Medical/ IBA Molecular merger. On 15 August 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its final report on the completed acquisition by Alliance Medical Limited of manufacturing assets of IBA Molecular UK Limited used to produce Fluorodeoxyglucose 18F (FDG-18). The CMA found that the acquired business had been loss- making for several years and suffered from various competitive weaknesses. Absent the merger, the business would have exited the market. Considering the impact of the merger on customers of the acquired business, as compared to the counterfactual, the CMA concluded that the merger would not be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition (in particular, customers could, if they chose to, benefit from the continued existence of a supply site that would have closed absent the merger).
BIS invites comments on Commission White Paper on making EU merger control more effective. On 19 August 2014, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that the Government will be responding to the European Commission’s White Paper on making EU merger control more effective. The Commission is proposing to amend the EU Merger Regulation to bring acquisitions of non-controlling minority shareholdings within its scope. The Commission is also proposing amendments to the case referral system and various other amendments intended to improve the functioning of the Merger Regulation. The deadline for responses to the White Paper is 3 October 2014.
Speeches & Publications
On 27 August 2014, the Council of the European Union published the European Commission’s annual public procurement review for 2013. Public Procurement Review