Cartels

ECJ dismisses gas insulated switchgear cartel appeals by Siemens, Mitsubishi and Toshiba.On 19 December 2013, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed appeals by Siemens AG, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Toshiba Corp. against General Court judgments related to the gas insulated switchgear cartel (Comp/38899). The General Court dismissed the action brought by Siemens AG (T-110/07) and annulled the fines imposed on both Mitsubishi (T-133/07) and Toshiba (T-113/07) on the basis that the Commission had infringed the principle of equal treatment in calculating the fines of the Japanese producers. In its judgment, the ECJ rejected Siemens’ claims that the General Court erred in determining the duration of Siemens’ participation and in the calculation of the fine imposed on it. Likewise, the ECJ also dismissed claims by Mitsubishi and Toshiba that the General Court erred in upholding the Commission’s findings that they participated in the infringement (Joined Cases C-239/11, C-489/11 and C-498/11 Siemens AG, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Toshiba Corp. v Commission, judgment of 19 December 2013 ) (ECJ Press Release 161/13).

ECJ dismisses bitumen Nederland cartel appeal. On 19 December 2013, the ECJ dismissed an appeal by Koninklijke Wegenbouw Stevin BV (KWS) related to the 2006 Commission decision on the bitumen Nederland cartel. The ECJ rejected arguments by KWS that the General Court had erred in finding that KWS was leader of the cartel (C-586/12 – Koninklijke Wegenbouw Stevin v Commission, judgment of 19 December 2013).

Dominance

European Commission accepts Deutsche Bahn traction commitments. The European Commission (Commission) has accepted legally binding commitments proposed by the German railway incumbent Deutsche Bahn concerning its pricing system for traction current (electricity used to power locomotives) in Germany (Case No. 39678). The Commission had concerns that Deutsche Bahn’s pricing system may created a margin squeeze on the German long distance passenger rail transport and rail freight markets in breach of Article 102 TFEU. The commitments were amended by Deutsche Bahn following the results of a market test earlier this year (see Volume 40). From 1 July 2014, Deutsche Bahn Energie will grant electricity providers access to its network for supplying traction current. In addition, DB Energie will introduce a new pricing system which will market the price of electricity separately from the fee charged for accessing the network (IP/13/1289).

EU Mergers

Phase I Clearances

  • M.6962 Renova Industries / Schmolz + Bickenbach.
  • M.6981 TPG Group / Servco / Fender Musical Instruments (simplified review).
  • M.7035 Austevoll / Kvefi / JV.
  • M.7021 Swissport / Servisair (IP/13/1290) (subject to conditions).
  • M.7066 China National Oil & Gas Exploration and Development Corporation / Novatek / Total EPY / Yamal LNG (simplified review).
  • M.7070 Gestamp Eolica / Banco Santander (simplified review).
  • M.7077 Rheinmetall / Ferrostaal Industrieanlagen / Rheinmetall International Engineering JV (simplified review).
  • M.7079 Bulgarian Airways Group / Swissport / Swissport Bulgaria (simplified review).
  • M.7087 Carlyle Group / Vitol Group / Varo (simplified review).
  • M.7089 Ackermans & Van Haaren / Aannemingsmaatschappij CFE (simplified review).
  • M.7096 – ENI ULX / Liverpool Bay JV (simplified review).
  • M.7097 Bridgepoint / Orlando/ La Gardenia Beauty.
  • M.7099 ARX / Darby / Gramex / GFI (simplified review).
  • M.7100 New Mountain Partners IV, L.P. / Alexander Mann Solutions (simplified review).
  • M.7101 Starwood / Brookfield / Hotel Portfolio (simplified review).
  • M.7106 Pensiondanmark Holding / GDF Suez /Noordgastransport (simplified review).
  • M.7107 Cordes & Graefe / Pompac group.
  • M.7118 AXA / Norges / SZ Tower (simplified review)
  • M.7121 E.ON / SEAS-NVE (simplified review)
  • M.7122 Altamira / Apollo.

Phase II Investigations

Commission opens Phase II investigation into E-Plus / Telefónica Deutschland merger (M.7018). On 5 November 2013, the Commission announced an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland may affect competition in the markets for retail mobile telephony and for wholesale access and call origination in Germany (IP/13/1304).

UK Mergers

Competition Commission accepts final undertakings in Imerys Minerals/Goonvean. On 19 December 2013, the Competition Commission (CC) published the final undertakings accepted in relation to the completed acquisition by Imerys Minerals Limited of the kaolin business of Goonvean Limited. The CC concluded that the most effective and proportionate remedy would be a price control remedy for five years (Imerys Minerals/ Goonvean merger inquiry) (see Volume 46).

UK Market Investigations

Competition Commission issues provisional findings on private motor insurance. On 17 December 2013, the CC announced the provisional findings of its private motor insurance market investigation. A summary of the provisional findings and Notice of possible remedies are now available on the private motor insurance home page. The CC has invited comments on possible remedies by 17 January 2014.

UK Reform

Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 receives Royal Assent. On 18 December 2013, the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 18 December 2013. The Banking Reform Act gives the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concurrent competition powers under Part 1 of the Competition Act 1998 and Part 4 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in relation to financial sector activities (section 129 and Schedule 8).

Speeches & Publications

Speech by the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, Joaquín Almunia. Press conference on the competition decisions (SPEECH/13/1082).

Speech by the Director-General for Competition, Alexander Italianer. To commit or not to commit, that is the question (CRA Competition Conference – Brussels, 11 December 2013).

Commission publishes Notice on the ECMR simplified procedure (OJ C 366/5, 14.12.2013).

European Competition Network – July 2013 Report (ECN Brief 5/2013).