EU Antitrust

Commission tells UK court it can order the disclosure of Mastercard confidential information. In the context of English High Court damages proceedings, on 27 June 2014, the Commission has told a UK judge he can order the disclosure of confidential information created in the course of the Commission’s investigation, including the confidential version of the Commission Decision. The Commission’s opinion letter to the judge explains that certain documents can be disclosed so long as “adequate protection is given to business secrets.”

Cartels

Commission statistical review. On 25 June 2014, the Commission released a statistical review of cartel cases to cover the period from 1990 to 2014. The information provided includes, to name but a few, the number of fines, number of decisions, and highest fines per case.

EU Mergers

Phase I Clearance

  • M.7202 - Motorola Mobility Holdings LLC / Lenovo Group Limited (26.06.2014)
  • M.7226 - Carlyle / Traxys (02.07.2014)
  • M.7232 - Charterhouse / Nuova Castelli (02.07.2014)
  • M.7243 - Amvest Vastgoed B.V. / NPM Capital / Het Gastenhuis (30.06.2014)
  • M.7254 - RWE Dea AG / LetterOne Holding SA (04.07.2014)
  • M.7312 - Independent Clinical Services Group Limited / TowerBrook Investors Limited (04.07.2014)

Phase II Clearance

Commission clears acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland, subject to conditions. On 2 July 2014, following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Dutch Telecom operator KPN’s German mobile telecommunications business E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland (Telefónica) (IP/14/771). The approval is conditional upon the full implementation of a commitments package submitted by Telefónica. These commitments ensure that new competitors will enter the mobile telecommunications market in Germany and that the position of existing competitors is strengthened. These commitments remove the Commission’s concerns.

State Aid

New guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy published. On 28 June 2014, the Commission’s communication containing the new guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020 was published in the Official Journal (OJ 2014 C 200/1). The new guidelines apply from 1 July 2014 and replace the 2008 guidelines on environmental aid. They extend the 2008 guidelines to cover, in particular, state aid to energy infrastructure projects, generation adequacy measures, and support for energy intensive users. They also set out a framework for aid to energy (particularly electricity) from renewable sources. The new guidelines will apply until 31 December 2020.

Commission announces approval of liquidity support scheme for Bulgarian banks. On 30 June 2014, the Commission announced that it has decided, under the state aid rules, to approve a liquidity support scheme for Bulgarian banks (IP/14/754). The liquidity support has been provided in response to speculative attacks on the Bulgarian banking system over the last week. The Commission has concluded that the state aid involved in the liquidity measure is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking sector in the particular circumstances.

Commission orders Belgium to recover incompatible state aid from financial cooperative ARCO. On 2 July 2014, the Commission announced, following an in-depth investigation, that it has concluded that a Belgian guarantee scheme for shareholders of financial cooperatives was incompatible with EU state aid rules (IP/14/773). In particular, the guarantee conferred a selective advantage to the Belgian financial cooperative ARCO, the only beneficiary of the scheme, who now has to pay back the undue advantage it received..

UK Antitrust

CMA publishes letter to motor industry about cartel enforcement and compliance. On 1 July 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an open letter to the motor industry about the lessons from the commercial vehicles case about cartel enforcement and compliance with the law. This follows the publication of a briefing note on lessons learnt from the case and is part of the CMA’s on-going work to encourage compliance.

BIS publishes guidance on new General Block Exemption Regulation. On 1 July 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published guidance on the new state aid General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). The new GBER (Regulation 651/2014) applies from 1 July 2014.

UK Mergers

CMA announces clearance of FN Herstal SA / Manroy proposed merger. On 1 July 2014, the CMA announced that it has decided not to refer the anticipated acquisition by FN Herstal SA of Manroy plc for a Phase 2 investigation under the Enterprise Act 2002.

CMA decision on acquisition of Banner Homes Group plc by CALA 1 Limited. On 27 June 2014, the CMA published its Decision on the completed acquisition of Banner Homes Group plc by CALA 1 Limited. The CMA announced its decision not to refer this merger for a Phase II investigation under the Enterprise Act 2002 on 18

June 2014. The parties are both residential house builders. The CMA examined the impact of the merger on a national, regional, and local basis. Due to the parties’ low shares of supply, the lack of closeness of competition between them, and the presence of significant competitors, the CMA did not identify competition concerns in any market.

Speeches & Publications

Speech by EU Commission Vice President Almunia, “Public policies in digital markets: reflections from competition enforcement,” 30 June 2014. Speech