EU ANTITRUST

European Commission closes Article 101 TFEU investigation into French water companies. On 30 April 2013, the European Commission (Commission) announced the closure of its investigation into suspected breaches of Article 101 TFEU by certain French water companies. Following a thorough investigation initiated in January 2012, the Commission has not established any breach of the EU competition rules (MEX/13/0430).

UK REFORM

UK enacts the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013. The competition provisions of the ERRA will enter into force and the Competition and Markets Authority (replacing the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading) will become operational on a date to be appointed by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument (likely to be April 2014).

UK ANTITRUST

Supreme Court Order confirms withdrawal of application for permission to appeal in carbon and graphite follow-on damages action. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has published an Order of the Supreme Court consenting to the withdrawal by Emerson Electric Co, Valeo SA and Robert Bosch (the claimants) of their application for permission to appeal a Court of Appeal (CA) decision which confirmed that the CAT had no jurisdiction to award cartel damages against Carbone GB (Case number: 1077/5/7/07) related to the carbon and graphite cartel case (Case COMP/38.359). In November 2012, the CA upheld a CAT ruling that the claimants’ action against Mersen UK Portslade Ltd (formerly Carbone GB) should be struck out as Carbone GB had not been an addressee of the Commission's decision ([2012] EWCA Civ 1559) (see Volume 1, Edition 6). The claimants’ damages action was withdrawn in April 2012 following settlement.

CAT Order stays Gallaher and Somerfield appeals against OFT tobacco decision. On 29 April 2013, the CAT stayed appeals lodged by Gallaher (Case No. 1209/1/1/13) and Somerfield (Case No. 1208/1/1/13) against the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) 2010 tobacco decision. The OFT has applied for permission to appeal the CAT rulings in March 2013 which retroactively extended the time for Gallaher and Somerfield to appeal (see Volume 1, Edition 21).

Ofcom initiates Chapter II prohibition / Article 102 TFEU investigation following SFBB complaint against BT. On 1 May 2013, Ofcom announced receipt of a complaint from TalkTalk Telecom Group plc (TTG) alleging that BT Group plc (BT) has abused a dominant position in breach of the Chapter II prohibition/Article 102 TFEU in relation to the supply of superfast broadband (SFBB). Ofcom has now opened an investigation into the matters raised by TTG (Case No. CW/001103/03/13).

EU MERGERS

Phase I Clearance

  • M.6890SCPE / Pemgrofund / CSSAF / ETC Group (29.04.2013) (simplified review).
  • M.6848Aegon / Santander / Santander Vida / Santander (19.04.2013).
  • M.6818 Deutsche Bahn / Veolia Transport Central Europe (30.04.2013).
  • M.6898 RAG-Stiftung / Evonik Industries (MEX/13/0503) (simplified procedure).

UK MERGERS

Supreme Court refuses Ryanair permission to appeal Court of Appeal judgment. The Supreme Court has refused Ryanair permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow the UK Competition Commission (CC) to continue its investigation of Ryanair's completed acquisition of a minority shareholding in Aer Lingus (Case No. 1196/4/8/12) (see Volume 1, Edition 8) (Press Release) (Ryanair / Aer Lingus CC merger inquiry).

CAT publishes transcript of hearing in appeal against prohibition of Akzo / Metlac merger. CAT has published the hearing transcript related to Akzo Nobel's application for review of the CC prohibition of the Akzo / Metlac merger (Case No. 1204/4/8/13Akzo Nobel N.V. v Competition Commission) (see Volume 1, Edition 9 and Edition 12).

OFT refers completed Cineworld / City Screen merger to the Competition Commission. On 30 April 2013, the OFT referred the completed acquisition by Cineworld plc of City Screen Limited to the CC following concerns that the merger reduces competition and could restrict choice and increase prices for cinema-goers in five local areas. The CC is expected to report by 14 October 2013 (OFT Press Release 37/13).