ECJ dismisses 1G appeal on calcium carbide cartel. On 15 May 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed in its entirety an appeal related to the Commission decision on the calcium carbide cartel (Case COMP/39396). In 2009, the Commission imposed a fine of EUR 19.6 million on 1. garantovaná a.s. (1G) on the basis that it had exercised “decisive influence” over its 70% subsidiary, Novácke chemické závody. The General Court had dismissed 1G’s appeal in December 2012 (T-392/09). In particular, the ECJ ruled that the Commission had been entitled to use 1G’s 2007 turnover as the basis of the 10% ceiling of the fine on the basis that an asset sale in the year had prompted a “very significant drop” in turnover which did not form part of the normal economic activities of a commercial company (Case C 90/13 – 1. garantovaná a.s. v Commission, judgment of 15 May 2014).

General Court dismisses Reagens appeal on heat stabilisers cartel. On 14 May 2014, the General Court dismissed in its entirety an appeal brought by Reagens SpA against the 2009 Commission decision on the heat stabilisers cartel (Case COMP/C.38.589) (Case T-30/10 Reagens SpA v Commission, judgment of 14 May 2014).

General Court reduces Donau Chemie fine in calcium carbide cartel. The General Court has granted Donau Chemie AG a reduction of the fine imposed by the Commission for its participation in the calcium carbide cartel (Case COMP/39396). The General Court has reduced the fine from EUR 5 million to EUR 4.35 million (Case T- 406/09 Donau Chemie v Commission, judgment of 14 May 2014).

EU Mergers

Phase I Clearance

  • M.7185 – Agroenergi / Neova Pellets / JV (15.05.2015).
  • M.7237 – TPG Capital / Warranty Group Inc. (simplified merger review).

State Aid

Commission approves Lloyds restructuring plan. On 13 May 2014, the Commission announced its approval of amendments to the Lloyds Banking Group restructuring plan (see IP/14/554).

UK Antitrust

Competition Appeal Tribunal orders hearing of preliminary issue in Emerson damages action. On 13 May 2014, the CAT made a case management directions Order in the damages action by Emerson Electric and Valeo against Morgan Advanced Materials plc (formerly Morgan Crucible Company plc). Morgan is the only remaining defendant in this action further to a number of confidential settlements (see Case 1077/5/7/07).

UK Mergers

CMA clears proposed takeover of NHS Foundation Trust hospitals. On 14 May 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) cleared the proposed takeover of Heatherwood and Wexham Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. In summary, the CMA does not believe that the merger will lead to a material reduction in the quality of services for patients (including clinical factors such as outcomes, infection rates and mortality rates and non-clinical factors such as waiting times and patient experience) and will not materially reduce the hospitals’ incentives to innovate and improve their services (CMA Press Release).

CAT permission to intervene in Information Resources/ Aztec Group merger. On 14 May 2014, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) published an Order in which it granted Information Resources, Inc permission to intercede in the application by AC Nielsen for review of the decision of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) not to refer its completed acquisition of Aztec Group to the Competition Commission.

Speeches & Publications

Speech by the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition policy, Joaquín Almunia. Honing the instruments of EU competition control. International Competition Law Forum, St. Gallen, 15 May 2014 (SPEECH 14/378).

CMA publishes revised form for anti-competitive or market issue reporting. CMA reporting form.