Only a few days after initiating proceedings against Frikom (to see more on the subject, please follow this link), the Serbian Competition Commission initiated another high-profile antitrust investigation. This time against a potential horizontal agreement between Imlek a.d. Padinska Skela ("Imlek"), the largest dairy company in Serbia, and Kruna-Komerc d.o.o. Beograd ("Kruna-Komerc").
The proceedings in question had been initiated based on an anonymous complaint from September 2016 in a potential bid-rigging by these companies. Following a preliminary investigation, the Commission came into possession of the Agreement on business cooperation between Imlek and Kruna-Komerc, stipulating that the parties, which appear to be competitors, will jointly analyse the competitive conditions on the market of the public procurement of milk and dairy products for the purpose of formulating their pricing policy. Also, the document stated that Kruna-Komerc is obliged to follow Imlek's lead in tendering, while having a privileged financial position in formulating bids.
Upon analysing the Agreement, the Commission formally initiated the subject proceedings on the 31st of May 2017, announcing that there are clear indications that Imlek and Kruna-Komerc have agreed on the commercial terms for participation in public procurements, which potentially represents a prohibited restrictive agreement.
The Commission announced that it will undertake all the necessary measures at its disposal pursuant to the Competition Law, in order to fully and properly establish the substantial facts of the case. Back in 2011, Imlek was the target of an abuse of dominance probe on the raw milk acquisition market, whereby the Commission had originally imposed fines exceeding EUR 2 million, which were ultimately overturned before the Serbian courts.