As mentioned in our previous articles, on 8 June 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the “ICA”) closed an investigation into sixteen companies (the “Companies”), and their Association (“Associazione Italiana Distribuzione Automatica”), providing vending services for alleged infringements of Article 101 TFEU, the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements.
The investigation stemmed from an anonymous complainant referring to two telephone conversations. The conversations allegedly showed the existence of an agreement among the Companies under which the clients “belonging” to one Company cannot receive services or products by another Company.
The ICA held that the Companies tried to avoid entering into competition with each other and found that the Companies had decided to illegally assign customers amongst them. Through this strategy, the Companies caused damage to customers, such as the complainant, in terms of far lower costs which they would have borne by competing.
Further, the ICA found that the alleged anti-competitive agreement can also affect the intra-Community market as the agreement included the most important Italian undertakings active in the vending services-- which is an important part of the European Union market.
In light of the above, the ICA fined the Companies along with their Association € 100,750,030 collectively.