CARTELS

European Commission corrects fines of Saint-Gobain and Pilkington in Car Glass cartel. On 6 March 2013, the European Commission (Commission) announced that it had reduced fines imposed on Saint-Gobain and Pilkington for their participation in the Car Glass cartel (COMP/39125) following errors in computing the fines. The Commission has imposed a fine of €880 million (reduced from €896 million) on Saint-Gobain and €357 million on Pilkington (reduced from €370 million) (MEX/13/0306, 06/03/2013).

ARTICLE 101 TFEU

European Commission closes preliminary investigation into “E5” telecom operators. In March 2012, the Commission announced that it had requested information from Deutsche Telecom, France Télécom, Telefónica, Vodafone and Telecom Italia (together, the E5) and the mobile sector association, GSMA, about the development of standardization processes. The Commission’s stated policy is to ensure that processes led by major telecom operators are not being used strategically to foreclose other companies. The Commission has closed its investigation following the transfer of standardisation work formerly conducted by the E5 to the GSMA and other industry associations (IP/13/208, 07/03/2013).

DOMINANCE

Commission fines Microsoft €561 million for non-compliance with browser choice commitments. The Commission has imposed a fine on Microsoft for failing to comply with legally binding commitments agreed with the Commission in 2009 (COMP/39530Microsoft (Tying)). The commitments addressed Commission concerns relating to tying of Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer, to its PC operating system Windows, ending the Commission’s Article 102 TFEU investigation (IP/09/1941, 16/12/2009). Microsoft acknowledged its failure to display a browser “choice screen” enabling users of the Windows operating system to select their chosen web browser during a 14 month period, which was reflected in the fine. This is the first time that the Commission has fined a company for non-compliance with legally binding commitments (IP/13/196, 06/03/2013) (Commission FAQ).

Commission opens proceedings against Lithuanian railway incumbent, AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai. On 6 March 2013, the Commission opened formal antitrust proceedings against the Lithuanian railway incumbent, AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai (LG). The Commission investigation will focus on whether the dismantling of a railway track running between Lithuania and Latvia by LG and LG’s subsequent conduct may be contrary to Article 102 TFEU prohibiting the abuse of a dominant position. According to the Commission Press Release, the removal of the track limits the number of rail connections between Lithuania and Latvia for international freight traffic (IP/13/197, 06/03/2013). Information on this case will be available under the case number AT.39813.

EU MERGERS

Phase I Clearance

  • M.6708Bristol-Myers Squibb / AstraZeneca / Amylin Business (01.03.2013) (simplified review).
  • M.6739 Allianz SE and VW Financial Services AG (08.03.2013) (IP/13/203).
  • M.6753Orkla / Rieber & Son (04.03.2013) (partial referral).
  • M.6801Rosneft / TNK-BP (08.03.2013) (IP/13/214).
  • M.6803Avolon / Wells Fargo / ACP (JV), (28.02.2013) (simplified review).
  • M.6811Innovation Network Corporation of Japan / Renesas Electronics Corporation (05.03.2013) (simplified review).

Phase II Publication

UK ANTITRUST

UK CC publishes Issues Statement in Ryanair / Aer Lingus. On 6 March 2013, the UK Competition Commission (CC) published an issues statement in its investigation of Ryanair’s acquisition of a minority shareholding in Aer Lingus in 2006. The CC will first determine whether there is a “relevant merger situation” to establish whether the CC has jurisdiction over the minority share acquisition. Once established, the CC will then consider whether the completed acquisition has resulted or may be expected to result in an SLC in the UK. The Issues Statement sets out three initial theories of harm and identifies topics for investigation. The CC will assess whether, as a result of the acquisition, actual or potential rivalry between Ryanair and Aer Lingus on certain routes has been, or will be, diminished and, if so, whether this has produced or may be expected to produce adverse outcomes for consumers in terms of price, quality, service or innovation. The CC has also published an updated administrative timetable. The revised deadline for the CC final report is 11 July 2013 (Ryanair / Aer Lingus CC merger inquiry).

PUBLICATIONS/SPEECHES

Speech by the Vice President of DG COMP, Joaquín Almunia. “Statement by VP Almunia on Microsoft” (SPEECH/13/192, 06/03/2013).

Speech by the Vice President of DG COMP, Joaquín Almunia. “Remedies, commitments and settlements in antitrust” (SPEECH/13/210, 08/03/2013).

European Competition Forum 2013. Brussels, 28 February 2013 (Forum programme).

European Competition Network Brief, February 2013 Edition (ECN Brief 01/2013).

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development / International Competition Network Report regarding international cooperation. Click here to view a briefing from Winston & Strawn LLP’s Litigation Practice.

SANCTIONS

Al-Qaida

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 180/2013 (OJ L 59/1, 2.3.2013) amending Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 of 27 May 2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida network and the Taliban. The Implementing Regulation lists additional designated persons in Annex I.