Legislation and jurisdiction

Relevant legislation and regulators

What is the relevant legislation and who enforces it?

In the Czech Republic, merger control is primarily regulated in sections 12 to 19 of the Czech Competition Act No. 143/2001 (the Act).

The merger regulation in the Act is implemented in Decree No. 294/2016, which primarily provides for the form of a merger notification and specification of the documents required for a merger filing.

Soft law of the Czech Competition Authority is also relevant to merger control, but is not binding. The Czech Competition Authority has so far published the following soft law concerning merger control:

  • notice on requirements of the proposal to approve the concentration;
  • notice on pre-notification contacts;
  • notice on the calculation of turnover;
  • notice on the concept of a concentration;
  • notice on the concept of parties to the concentration;
  • notice on implementation of a concentration prior to the approval;
  • notice on the competition defence for undertakings in economic difficulties; and
  • notice on simplified procedure.

The authority responsible for enforcing merger control legislation is the Czech Competition Authority - the Office for the Protection of Competition (the Office; www.uohs.cz).

Scope of legislation

What kinds of mergers are caught?

Pursuant to section 12 of the Act, the following types of transactions are subject to the notification obligation:

  • the merger of two or more independent undertakings;
  • the acquisition by one undertaking of an enterprise of another undertaking or a part thereof on the basis of an agreement, in a public auction or in another manner;
  • the acquisition by one or more persons already controlling at least one undertaking, or by one or more undertakings, of direct or indirect control over another undertaking either by acquisition of shares or ownership interest or by an agreement or by any other means; and
  • the establishment of a full-function joint venture.

The following transactions are not covered by the merger control rules:

  • the temporal acquisition of shares by a bank in an undertaking by setting off its claims against the undertaking, if the acquisition is made in the context of a restructuring process for a period not exceeding one year;
  • the temporal acquisition not exceeding a period of one year by an investment undertaking of shares in another undertaking only for the purpose of their sale, provided that the investment undertaking does not exercise its voting right to influence the competitive conduct of the controlled undertaking; and
  • the transfer of certain powers of statutory bodies of an undertaking to third parties pursuant to special legislation, particularly to a liquidator or an insolvency administrator.

The Office can extend the deadline of one year in the first two bullet points under certain conditions.

What types of joint ventures are caught?

The merger control rules apply to the formation of a joint venture performing on a lasting basis all functions of an autonomous economic entity. Pursuant to section 12(6) of the Act, pertinent coordinative aspects of a full-function joint venture are assessed pursuant to the provisions of the Act regulating prohibited agreements.

Is there a definition of ‘control’ and are minority and other interests less than control caught?

In section 12(4), the Act defines ‘control’ as the possibility to exercise decisive influence over another undertaking, in particular by:

  • ownership or the right to use an enterprise of the controlled undertaking or a part thereof; or
  • rights or other legal facts that confer decisive influence on the composition, voting or decision of the bodies of the controlled undertaking.

The Act does not stipulate a fixed shareholding threshold or any specific board and management representation, meeting of which would constitute control. The Office always assesses the actual situation.

Not only the acquisition of control, but also the change in quality of control is deemed a concentration within the meaning of the Act.

Thresholds, triggers and approvals

What are the jurisdictional thresholds for notification and are there circumstances in which transactions falling below these thresholds may be investigated?

A concentration is subject to approval by the Office, if:

  • the aggregate net turnover of all parties to the concentration in the last completed accounting period within the market of the Czech Republic exceeds 1.5 billion Czech koruna and the aggregate net turnover of each of at least two of the parties to the concentration for the last completed accounting period within the market of the Czech Republic exceeds 250 million Czech koruna; or
  • the aggregate net turnover of:
    • at least one undertaking being party to the merger (consolidation);
    • an enterprise or its part being acquired;
    • an undertaking whose control is being acquired; or
    • at least one of the undertakings creating a concentrative joint venture, for the last completed accounting period within the market of the Czech Republic exceeds 1.5 billion Czech koruna and the aggregate worldwide net turnover of the other party to the concentration for the last completed accounting period exceeds 1.5 billion Czech koruna.

Aggregate net turnover is composed of the net turnover:

  • of all parties to the concentration;
  • of all persons that will control the parties to the concentration and persons that will be controlled by the parties to the concentration after completion of the concentration;
  • of all persons controlled by the same person that will control the parties to the concentration after completion of the concentration; and
  • of all persons jointly controlled by two or more persons referred to in the previous items.

For the purpose of calculating the turnover, the turnover resulting from the sale of products between the parties to the concentration and those persons listed above in respect of the calculation of the net turnover shall not be taken into account.

If only part of an undertaking is subject to the concentration, only that portion of the turnover achieved by this part shall be taken into account when calculating the turnover.

The rules for the calculation of turnover of banks also apply to the calculation of turnover of credit and other financial institutions, with the exception of insurance companies. For banks, the net turnover is understood as the sum of the incomes, particularly interest incomes, incomes from securities, incomes from participating interest, incomes from charges and commissions and incomes from financial operations. For insurance undertakings, the net turnover should be understood as the total sum of premiums written resulting from all concluded insurance contracts.

Is the filing mandatory or voluntary? If mandatory, do any exceptions exist?

If a transaction constitutes a concentration within the meaning of the Act and exceeds the notification thresholds mentioned under question 5, filing is mandatory. No exemptions from the notification obligation apply.

Do foreign-to-foreign mergers have to be notified and is there a local effects or nexus test?

No special rules apply to foreign-to-foreign mergers. No local effects tests nor any kind of nexus test exist. Therefore, if a foreign-to-foreign transaction constitutes a concentration within the meaning of the Act and exceeds the notification thresholds stipulated by the Act, filing such a transaction is mandatory.

Are there also rules on foreign investment, special sectors or other relevant approvals?

No. There are no special rules with respect to foreign investment or special sectors. As explained above, there are only special rules for certain temporal transactions involving banks or investment undertakings as well as liquidation and insolvency situations. According to other special legislation, transactions in sectors such as banking may further require special approval from regulatory bodies other than the Office.

Notification and clearance timetable

Filing formalities

What are the deadlines for filing? Are there sanctions for not filing and are they applied in practice?

A concentration cannot be implemented, neither before it is approved by the Office nor also before a clearance decision of the Office enters into force. The notifying party may file the notification as soon as the legally binding transaction documents have been signed. The notification may even be submitted prior to the signing of the relevant transaction documents, provided the parties have, in principle, agreed on the structure and timing of the concentration.

There are no specific sanctions for not filing a notifiable merger. Failure to file is seen by the Act as breach of the suspension clause. For the sanction for implementing a transaction prior to clearance, see question 12.

Which parties are responsible for filing and are filing fees required?

A notification has to be submitted:

  • in case of a merger by the merging parties;
  • in case of acquisition of sole control by the parties acquiring sole control;
  • in case of acquisition of joint control by the parties acquiring joint control;
  • in case of acquisition of an enterprise of another undertaking or a part thereof by the acquiring party or parties; and
  • in the case of creation of a full-function joint venture, jointly by all undertakings participating in the creation of a full-function joint venture.

The notification is subject to payment of an administrative fee of 100,000 Czech koruna.

What are the waiting periods and does implementation of the transaction have to be suspended prior to clearance?

There is a deadline of 30 days from the date of opening the notification proceedings for the Office to assess a concentration within Phase I and decide:

  • that the concentration does not constitute a concentration that must be notified pursuant to the Act;
  • to clear the concentration; or
  • to open Phase II of the investigation, because there are serious concerns that the concentration would significantly impede competition.

If the Office does not issue the decision according to the first two points above or does not open Phase II within the 30-day deadline, the concentration is deemed to be cleared.

The Phase II decision must be issued no later than five months from the date when the notification proceedings are opened. If the Office does not issue the decision within the given deadline, the concentration is deemed to be cleared.

If the notifying party proposes remedies, the respective deadline for Phase I or Phase II will be extended by another 15 days.

In case of a simplified procedure, the Office has to issue a decision within 20 days.

If the Office requires amendment of the notification by the notifying party, the Office’s time frame for issuing the decision is suspended.

In our experience, the Office typically issues the respective decision shortly before the deadline.

The concentration may not be implemented until it has been approved by an effective decision of the Office.

Pursuant to section 18(3) and (4) of the Act, the Office might grant an exemption from the standstill obligation on the request of the notifying party if the parties to the concentration or any third party runs the risk of suffering substantial damage or another serious detriment. The Office has 30 days from the receipt of the request to decide. The Office might also grant only partial exemption or grant the exemption subject to certain conditions.

A request for exemption from the standstill obligation is subject to payment of an administrative fee of 10,000 Czech koruna.

Pre-clearance closing

What are the possible sanctions involved in closing or integrating the activities of the merging businesses before clearance and are they applied in practice?

For closing the concentration before clearance, the Office may impose a fine of up to 10 million Czech koruna or 10 per cent of the net turnover of the undertakings that are in breach of the standstill obligation. The Office may further take measures that it considers necessary to restore effective competition on the relevant market, particularly a demerger obligation. There is also a risk that the respective transaction agreement will be deemed invalid. This question, however, is still not clear under Czech law.

In practice, the Office uses the right to impose a fine for breach of standstill clause. When setting the fine, it takes into account the circumstances of the breach, if the parties knew about the breach, as well as the length of the breach.

There has not been any recent case law on this issue. The last case where the Office imposed a fine of 5,383,000 Czech koruna for ‘gun-jumping’ was S104/2015 Bohemia Energy entity sro from 2016.

Are sanctions applied in cases involving closing before clearance in foreign-to-foreign mergers?

The same rules and sanctions for implementation of the notified concentration prior to clearance apply to foreign-to-foreign concentrations. To the best of our knowledge, there has been no such case so far.

What solutions might be acceptable to permit closing before clearance in a foreign-to-foreign merger?

The Act provides for a worldwide bar on closing. However, as already mentioned in question 11, the Office may grant an exception from the standstill clause.

Because the Office is obliged to assess negative effects of mergers only on markets within the Czech Republic, merging parties could be convicted by the Office for breach of the standstill obligation only if a merger closing before the adoption of the Office’s clearance decision has effect on markets within the Czech Republic. Therefore a ‘hold-separate agreement’ for the Czech part of a foreign transaction would probably not be seen as gun jumping.

Public takeovers

Are there any special merger control rules applicable to public takeover bids?

The same rules and requirements apply to public takeover bids; however, pursuant to section 18(2) of the Act, the ban on closing does not apply to implementing a public offer to purchase or exchange stocks provided that the transaction was notified immediately and that the buyer does not exercise the voting rights arising from the acquired stocks.

Documentation

What is the level of detail required in the preparation of a filing, and are there sanctions for supplying wrong or missing information?

The notification must be made on a notification form prescribed by Decree No. 294/2016. It can be downloaded at www.uohs.cz. The notification form must be filed in Czech.

The Decree also specifies the documents that must accompany the filed notification. It is necessary to submit to the Office either the original documents or their authenticated copies. If any document is in a foreign language, it must be translated into Czech by an authorised translator. Long documents such as annual reports and consolidated financial statements do not have to be translated into Czech, if the originals provided to the Office are in English or German. The Office may also decide on a case-by-case basis that parts of the agreements establishing the notified concentration or relevant studies and analysis, which are not necessary for the assessment of the notified concentration, do not need to be translated into Czech if the originals provided to the Office are in English or German. Detailed information is set out in the Office’s notice on requirements of the proposal to approve the concentration.

The level of detail required in the preparation of a filing depends on the circumstances of the concentration. If there is no overlap in the activities of the parties to the concentration or their aggregate market share is below 15 per cent in case of a horizontal concentration or the market share of any party to the concentration is below 25 per cent in case of a vertical concentration, it is not necessary to fill in parts 6 and 7 of the notification form.

The Act also foresees a simplified procedure for certain types of concentrations, which allows the parties to the concentration to provide less information and fewer supporting documents. The simplified notification of the concentration may be filed when:

  • none of the undertakings involved is operating in the same relevant market, or their combined share in such a market does not exceed 15 per cent, and at the same time none of the undertakings concerned is operating in a market vertically connected to the relevant market in which another undertaking operates, or their share in every such market does not exceed 25 per cent; or
  • the undertaking acquires exclusive control over the joint venture in which it has participated in joint control so far.

Detailed information and requirements concerning the simplified procedure are set out in the Office’s notice on the simplified procedure.

The sanction for not supplying full, correct and true business information is a fine of up to 300,000 Czech koruna or 1 per cent of net turnover achieved in the last accounting period.

Investigation phases and timetable

What are the typical steps and different phases of the investigation?

The Office recommends the notifying party to have pre-notification contacts with it prior to filing the notification, details of which are described in the Office’s notice on pre-notification contacts.

Clearance procedure could be divided into two phases. The Office initiates Phase I after its receipt of the notification by parties to the concentration. Specifically, upon receipt of the notification, the Office publishes a short summary of the notification on its website (www.uohs.cz) as well as in the Commercial Gazette. In case of a simplified procedure, the summary is published only on the website. The summary contains the names of the parties, a brief description of the type of concentration and the business sector concerned. Third parties are invited to provide their pertinent objections by a set deadline, usually five days.

The Office informs the notifying party in writing about the opening of the investigation, which constitutes Phase I. The Office within the Phase I assesses whether the concentration falls within the scope of the Act and whether the concentration would significantly impede competition. In the event that the concentration might raise serious doubts of significant impediment of competition, the Office opens Phase II, otherwise the concentration is cleared. If the Office needs clarifications, further information or documents, it shall approach the notifying party in writing. In such a case, the Office’s time frame for issuing the decision is suspended.

The parties to the concentration can offer remedies to the Office either prior to the notification or at any time in the course of the investigation; however, at the latest within 15 days from obtaining the statement of objections.

If the Office intends to open Phase II, it shall inform the notifying party about this in writing in the course of Phase I.

Prior to issuing the decision, the Office will invite the notifying party to make itself acquainted with information and documents contained in the administrative file, which will be the basis for its decision.

What is the statutory timetable for clearance? Can it be speeded up?

The Office has 30 days from the date of opening the notification proceedings to assess a concentration within Phase I and decide:

  • that the concentration does not constitute a concentration that must be notified pursuant to the Act;
  • to clear the concentration; or
  • to open Phase II of the investigation, because there are serious concerns that the concentration would significantly impede competition.

If the Office does not issue the decision according to the first two points above or does not open Phase II within the 30-day deadline, the concentration is deemed to be cleared.

The Phase II decision must be issued no later than five months from the date when the notification proceedings are opened. If the Office does not issue the decision within the given deadline, the concentration is deemed to be cleared.

If the notifying party proposes remedies, the respective deadline for Phase I or Phase II will be extended by another 15 days.

In case of a simplified procedure, the Office has to issue a decision within 20 days.

If the Office requires amendment of the notification by the notifying party, the Office’s time frame for issuing the decision is suspended.

In our experience, the Office typically issues the respective decision shortly before the deadline. There is no other possibility for speeding up the proceedings besides using the simplified procedure.

Substantive assessment

Substantive test

What is the substantive test for clearance?

The Office assesses the notified concentrations against a test that basically corresponds to the ‘substantial impediment to effective competition’ test under the EU Merger Regulation. The Office shall prohibit implementation of concentrations that would significantly impede competition in the relevant market. A significant impediment to competition can be caused particularly by the creation or strengthening of a dominant position. The Act presumes that a concentration will not have as its result the significant impediment of competition where the aggregate market share of the parties to the concentration on the relevant market does not exceed 25 per cent.

Nevertheless, the substantive test is not only restricted to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position. There are a number of legal and economic aspects that must be taken into account when pursuing the test, such as the necessity of maintaining and further developing competition, the structure of all affected markets, the market shares of the parties to the concentration, the economic and financial power of the parties, the legal and other barriers to entry to the market, the ability of suppliers and customers of the parties to switch, the development of supply and demand in the affected markets, the needs and interests of consumers, and research and development. A concentration’s impact on competition must be assessed with regard to all these combined criteria.

A concentration that otherwise does not meet the requirements for clearance may be cleared by the Office subject to conditions and obligations.

Regarding the ‘failing firm defence’ the Office published a soft law document available at www.uohs.cz. Thus, the Office recognises this specific situation and after consideration of all relevant circumstances is willing to clear the concentration. Although, the conditions to satisfy ‘failing firm defence’ are strict and the Office is thoroughly assessing characteristics of the market and also potential impacts that the concentration might have.

Is there a special substantive test for joint ventures?

No, there is no special substantive test for joint ventures. It is not only theories of harm arising from the creation or strengthening of a unilateral or collective dominant position that are the subject of the Office’s investigation; the possibility of the elimination of important competitive constraints on oligopolistic markets caused by a merger is also examined by the Office within the assessment of merger effects on relevant markets.

Theories of harm

What are the ‘theories of harm’ that the authorities will investigate?

The test for clearance is whether the concentration significantly impedes effective competition. Within the scope of the test, the Office may rely on a number of theories of harm (eg, vertical foreclosure, conglomerate effects, collective dominance) to prove that the concentration would significantly impede effective competition. Thus, the Office investigates all potential risks and impacts on the relevant markets the concentrations might have.

Non-competition issues

To what extent are non-competition issues relevant in the review process?

In merger cases, the Office does not consider any non-competition issue as a criterion for assessing whether a merger can or cannot be declared to be compatible with the Czech market. The only thing that is checked is whether a merger significantly impedes economic competition. When deciding on a concentration notification, the Office shall primarily assess the necessity of preservation and further development of effective competition, the structure of all markets affected by the concentration, the shares of the parties to the concentration in such markets, their economic and financial power, legal and other barriers to enter relevant markets by other undertakings, the alternatives available to suppliers and customers of the parties to the concentration, the development of supply and demand in the affected markets, the needs and interests of consumers, and research and development, provided that it is to the consumers’ advantage and does not form an obstacle to effective competition.

Economic efficiencies

To what extent does the authority take into account economic efficiencies in the review process?

The Office might take economic efficiencies into account in the review process. Where efficiencies are invoked in favour of a concentration, the party alleging the efficiencies bears the burden of proof. In practice, it is advisable to document the efficiencies through the opinions of economic experts.

Remedies and ancillary restraints

Regulatory powers

What powers do the authorities have to prohibit or otherwise interfere with a transaction?

The Office will issue a prohibition decision if it considers that a concentration would significantly impede competition on the relevant market, particularly through the creation or strengthening of a dominant position of the parties to the concentration or some of them.

If the decision is not complied with, the Office may impose restorative measures to restore effective competition; for example, an order to sell the shares of the acquired undertaking or to abolish the agreement on which the concentration is based.

In addition, the Office may impose a fine of up to 10 million Czech koruna or 10 per cent of the net turnover if the transaction is closed despite its veto (see also question 12).

Remedies and conditions

Is it possible to remedy competition issues, for example by giving divestment undertakings or behavioural remedies?

To address the Office’s competition concerns about the notified concentration, the parties to the concentration may offer remedies. The decision to accept the proposed remedies is fully at the discretion of the Office. The parties to the concentration may offer remedies prior to the notification of the concentration or at any time in the course of the investigation; however, it must be at the latest 15 days from the receipt of the statement of objections.

The Act does not specify the nature of the remedies that might be proposed. Both structural and behavioural remedies are possible.

What are the basic conditions and timing issues applicable to a divestment or other remedy?

The Act does not specify which remedies are acceptable. Both structural and behavioural remedies can be proposed, but the Office prefers structural remedies.

Remedies may be proposed prior to the notification of the concentration or any time in the course of the Office’s investigation; however, they must be proposed at the latest 15 days after obtaining the statement of objections.

If remedies are proposed, the deadline for the decision of the Office within Phase I or Phase II shall be extended by 15 days.

The Office shall respect remedies proposed by the parties to concentration and only those shall be binding. In practice, it is advisable to discuss intended remedies with the Office during pre-­notification contacts.

What is the track record of the authority in requiring remedies in foreign-to-foreign mergers?

In the past 10 years there has been no such record. In 2003, the Office requested commitments or remedies in a few foreign-to-foreign mergers (S008/2003 General Electric Company/AGFA Geavert, S029/2003 DSM/division Vitamins and Fine Chemicals Roche Group).

Ancillary restrictions

In what circumstances will the clearance decision cover related arrangements (ancillary restrictions)?

Pursuant to section 17(2) of the Act, the clearance decision also covers those restrictions to competition that the notifying party identified in the notification and that are directly related and necessary to the concentration. The Office accepts the European Commission’s Notice on Restrictions Directly Related and Necessary to Concentrations as useful guidance on this matter.

Involvement of other parties or authorities

Third-party involvement and rights

Are customers and competitors involved in the review process and what rights do complainants have?

The Office publishes an announcement regarding the initiation of the notification proceeding on its website and in the Commercial Gazette without delay after the receipt of the concentration notification. In case of a simplified procedure, the summary is published only on the website. The announcement contains the names of the parties to the concentration, a brief description of the type of concentration and the business sector concerned. The announcement also contains an invitation for third parties to submit any potential objections within the set deadline. Third parties may provide objections to or comments on the notified concentration at any time during the investigation, although the Office is not obliged to deal with them.

The Office may, on its own initiative, address information requests to competitors and customers or any third parties in the course of its investigation.

According to the case law of the Regional Court in Brno (62 Af 55/2011-174 and 62 Af 42/2012-116), which is in charge of reviewing the Office’s decisions, third parties who provide their objections against the concentration within the set deadline and who are of the opinion that the Office did not properly deal with them in its first instance decision on the concentration can appeal the clearance decision of the Office. However, this case law was heavily criticised and was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Administrative Court (6 As 47/2014-82). At the same time, however, the Supreme Administrative Court suggested that third parties must have other possibilities to challenge the clearance decision. The specification of such possibilities was, however, left open.

Publicity and confidentiality

What publicity is given to the process and how do you protect commercial information, including business secrets, from disclosure?

During the investigation, parties to the concentration are obliged to disclose all information and documents available, including those that might contain business secrets. To protect business secrets, the notifying party is obliged to provide the notification both in a version with business secrets and in a version with business secrets redacted.

The Office publishes an announcement regarding the initiation of the notification proceeding on its website and in the Commercial Gazette. For further details, see questions 17 and 29.

The final decision of the Office is published on its website, but without business secrets indicated by the parties to the concentration.

As regards access by third parties, it was generally accepted for a long time that only the notifying party could see the file. However, according to case law of the Supreme Administrative Court (9 Afs 29/2012-53), if a third party demonstrates a strong interest in obtaining access to the file, the Office must allow the third party to have such access, but only to documents in which business secrets have been redacted. This conclusion has been confirmed by another case law of the Supreme Administrative Court (eg, 6 As 42/2015-75 and 6 As 47/2014-82).

Cross-border regulatory cooperation

Do the authorities cooperate with antitrust authorities in other jurisdictions?

At the level of know-how exchange, the Office cooperates with the European Commission and with the competition authorities of other countries within the European Competition Network, the International Competition Network and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Judicial review

Available avenues

What are the opportunities for appeal or judicial review?

The notifying party is entitled to appeal the decision of the Office within 15 days from the date of delivery of the decision on the concentration. The appeal body is the Chairman of the Office.

The decision of the Chairman of the Office can then be challenged by bringing an administrative action to the Regional Court in Brno. However, the administrative action has no suspensive effect on the decision of the Office unless the court grants it at the special request of the plaintiff.

As already mentioned in question 29, according to the current case law of the Supreme Administrative Court, third parties shall have other possibilities to challenge the clearance decision. The specification of such possibilities was, however, left open. Therefore, such specification needs to be clarified in the next decision-making practice.

Time frame

What is the usual time frame for appeal or judicial review?

An appeal of the first instance decision of the Office must be lodged within 15 days from the date of delivery of the decision. Administrative action against the second instance decision of the Office (ie, the decision of the chairman of the Office) must be lodged within two months. There is no deadline for the chairman of the Office to decide about the appeal against the first instance decision. There is also no deadline for a decision of the court about the administrative action against the second instance decision. The court usually decides within a year or so.

Enforcement practice and future developments

Enforcement record

What is the recent enforcement record and what are the current enforcement concerns of the authorities?

In 2018, the Office issued 55 decisions concerning concentrations, 40 of them within the simplified procedure. One clearance was subject to commitments. There have been no prohibition decisions by the Office in the past eight years.

There is no particular focus on any industries or sectors or issues in the Office’s decision-making practice.

Reform proposals

Are there current proposals to change the legislation?

No, there are currently no such proposals.

Update and trends

Key developments of the past year

What were the key cases, decisions, judgments and policy and legislative developments of the past year?

Key developments of the past year36 What were the key cases, decisions, judgments and policy and legislative developments of the past year?

Czech legal practitioners kept watching the first outcomes of the adopted thresholds based on value of transaction in Germany and later in Austria. In addition, a potential change of the actual merger control regime was discussed in the light of the opposing decision of the European Commission in the ALSTOM/Siemens case. However, no particular proposals to amend the Act in this regard have been made.

Competition law on digital markets and related issues remain as the hot topics. The Office also continues to cooperate with other competition authorities from neighboring countries and with other public authorities. Regarding the complexity of competition law issues, it will be necessary for competition enforcers as well as other practitioners to cooperate crosswise and find new experts in diverse areas.

On 25 April 2018, the Office published its new soft-law document ‘Methodology on Imposing the Fines’ (the Methodology). The Office took account of the related case law of the administrative courts as well as its own decision-making practice. According to the Office, the Methodology should bring transparency and overall clarity in imposing fines.

The Czech economy still seems to be in a phase of economic growth, which has also been illustrated by the high number of announced concentrations between undertakings active in all industries. Healthcare, IT, media, water services and real estate are key industries where undertakings have decided to merge. Overall, the Czech Republic constitutes a stable and positive opportunity for foreign investments.