CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 1 Competition Bites – ASEAN & Beyond Introduction A Happy New Year to all, as we share the latest competition news from the region and beyond. Our update highlights as quick notes only, a number of important competition-related legal and economic developments in ASEAN as well as key jurisdictions across the world. The update reminds all of the importance of complying with competition laws across different countries. For businesses active in ASEAN, given that almost all the ASEAN countries have now enacted competition laws, in line with the ASEAN Economic Community (“AEC”) commitment to introduce competition policy by 2015, they must come up to speed on understanding the implications and ensuring compliance. Another significant trend is the increased cooperation amongst competition authorities to increase exchange of information and sharing of evidence, and where appropriate, coordinate their responses to international cartel investigations affecting their respective markets. This is apparent from the Memoranda of Understanding and cooperation agreements that competition authorities have entered into in the last year. This is likely to allow investigations to be concluded more efficiently, leading to quicker enforcement decisions and a high probability that undertakings will be brought to task by multiple competition authorities where their conduct has an anti-competitive effect across jurisdictions. Written in an easy to understand manner, with basic facts and holdings provided, the aim is to trigger thoughts and spot concerns if any, as businesses go about their daily activities. Prevention is always the preferred course of action. ASEAN SINGAPORE Proposed Acquisition Of Radlink-Asia Pte Ltd By Parkway Holdings Ltd Blocked On 11 March 2015, the Competition Commission of Singapore (“CCS”) issued its provisional decision to block the proposed acquisition of RadLink-Asia Pte Ltd by Parkway Holdings Ltd, following a Phase 2 review of the transaction. This marked the first time CCS made public its intention to block a merger since the merger regime came into effect on 1 July 2007. In the course of its review, CCS found that the proposed acquisition would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the markets for: (i) the supply of radiopharmaceuticals; and (ii) the provision of radiology and imaging services. As such, the transaction did not proceed. It is interesting that CCS considered both the horizontal and vertical effects in this provisional decision. The consideration of vertical issues separately from that of horizontal issues in this case highlights a critical point that CCS takes a holistic view of mergers and cautions parties against making the incorrect assumption that the presence of only vertical effects in the absence of any horizontal effects is not detrimental to competition. CCS Issues Proposed Infringement Decision Against Financial Advisory Companies On 28 May 2015, CCS issued a proposed infringement decision against 10 financial advisory companies for allegedly being parties to an anti-competitive agreement in violatation of Section 34 of the Competition Act. The background of this case is as follows: iFAST, which distributes investment products through its Fundsupermart.com platform, launched a promotion on 30 April 2013 offering a 50% commission rebate on life insurance products. However, this offer was withdrawn a few days later. CCS commenced investigations into the matter, and provisionally found that iFAST had been pressured to CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 2 withdraw its offer by the offending financial advisory companies, which had agreed to do so at a meeting of the Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore). The parties had six weeks from the receipt of the proposed infringement decision to make their representations. The final decision has yet to be published. If the findings by CCS are confirmed, this will be the first infringement decision relating to an agreement between competitors to prevent a new entrant from entering the mraket. Voluntary Removal Of Exclusive Arrangements Following CCS Investigations Increasingly, more companies have taken the initiative to voluntarily cease any potential anti-competitive conduct once an investigation by CCS has started. On 17 June 2015, following an investigation by CCS into the matter, Cordlife Group Limited, a service provider of umbilical cord blood and cord lining banking in Singapore, voluntarily removed its existing exclusive arrangements with baby fair organisers and private maternity hospitals. Similarly, on 28 October 2015, Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) Pte Ltd, which operates Singapore’s only large-scale brewery, agreed to stop its practice of exclusively supplying draught beer to certain retail outlets, pursuant to an investigation by CCS. In both cases, the companies were being investigated by CCS for possible abuse of dominance. These indicate that businesses are increasingly aware of competition risks in Singapore and see CCS investigations as a reminder to conduct a self-assessment of their own practices and voluntarily cease any potentially anticompetitive conduct before any finding of a competition infringement. Public Consultation On Proposed Amendments To CCS Guidelines CCS initiated a public consultation on 25 September 2015 to gather feedback on the proposed amendments to its existing guidelines. The proposed amendments are wide-ranging in nature, and are intended to streamline and provide additional clarity on CCS’s enforcement of the competition regime. Of particular note is the proposed introduction of a new Fast Track procedure for Section 34 (anticompetitive agreements) and Section 47 (abuse of dominance) cases. Under the Fast Track procedure, parties who admit liability for their infringement will be eligible for a fixed percentage reduction in their financial penalty. The deadline for making submissions was on 27 November 2015, and CCS is currently in the process of reviewing the feedback. For more information on the proposed changes, please refer to: http://eoasis.rajahtann.com/eoasis/gn/at.asp?pdf=../lu/pdf/2015-10- CCS_Consultation(1).pdf&module=LU&topic=LU000953&sec=b. Block Exemption Order For Liner Shipping Agreements Extended For Five More Years A Block Exemption Order was first issued by the Minister for Trade and Industry in 2006 and extended in 2010, exempting a category of liner shipping agreements from the statutory prohibition against anticompetitive agreements. This order was due to expire on 31 December 2015. Following a public consultation, CCS recommended that the Minister extend the Block Exemption Order for another 5 years, as liner shipping agreements continue to provide a net economic benefit and are the regulatory norm worldwide. This recommendation has since been implemented, and the Block Exemption Order will now run until 31 December 2020. BRUNEI On 7 January 2015, Brunei published the Competition Order 2015, with the intention of promoting competition, economic efficiency, economic development and consumer welfare in Brunei. The new law is similar to the competition regimes in other ASEAN countries, prohibiting anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominance and mergers resulting in a substantial lessening of competition. One notable point is that Brunei’s merger control regime mirrors that of Singapore, with both being voluntary merger notification systems. Similar to Singapore, vertical agreements have also been excluded from Brunei’s Section 11 prohibition against anti-competitive agreements. However, the Competition Order 2015 has yet to come into force, and it has not been publicly announced when this is due to happen. CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 3 INDONESIA Indonesia’s national competition regulator, the Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (“KPPU”) has been very active in its enforcement efforts in 2015. Its infringement decisions primarily relate to cartel conduct or bid-rigging in various industries, with its recent investigations focusing on food. One such example was KPPU’s investigations into the beef industry, as it was observed that the price of beef had increased dramatically. KPPU found evidence that this price increase was caused by the manipulation of market supply by 32 feedlot companies, which had limited the sale of cows to slaughterhouses. As such, on 15 September 2015, KPPU prosecuted the feedlot companies for price-fixing and control of supply. However, the companies argued that the price increase was due to Indonesia’s weakened currency, and that their withholding of supply was a result of the government’s import policy. The case is still ongoing. LAOS Laos has introduced a national competition law, which will allow it to meet its AEC commitment to introduce a competition policy by the end of 2015. On 16 July 2015, the National Assembly of Laos passed the Business Competition Law, which will now form the basis of Laos’s competition regime, in place of the existing Decree No. 15 on Trade Competition. The new law is much broader than the existing Decree, and regulates anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominance, unfair business competition practices and mergers which will restrain competition. The Business Competition Law will be enforced by the Business Competition Commission when it comes into effect, but the date on which the law will come into effect has yet to be publicly announced. MALAYSIA The Malaysia Competition Commission (“MyCC”) issued 2 infringement decisions in 2015 against cartel activity in the ice and confectionary industries, as well as 2 proposed infringement decisions. Of particular note is MyCC’s proposed infringement decision of 6 October 2015 against My E.G. Services Berhad, which builds, operates and owns the electronic channel to deliver services from various Government agencies to Malaysia citizens and businesses. This is the MyCC’s second abuse of dominance case to date. MyCC alleged that My E.G. abused its dominance in the provision of foreign worker permit renewal applications by applying different conditions to equivalent transactions with its trading parties, and proposed to impose a financial penalty of RM 307,200 (approximately SGD 101,000). MyCC had commenced investigations into this case after significant public outcry, including a complaint from the People’s Justice Party. It is also interesting to note that 2 appeals were launched in 2015 – one in relation to MyCC’s 2014 infringement decision against Malaysian Airline System Berhad, Air Asia Berhad and AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd and the other in relation to MyCC’s 2015 infringement decision against members of the Sibu Confectionary and Bakery Association. Both cases are pending appeal at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. MYANMAR 24 February 2015 is a significant milestone in Myanmar’s regulatory landscape, as it marks the enactment of Myanmar’s national competition law – Competition Law No. 9/2015. The President has recently announced that the law will come into force on 24 February 2017. The new law broadly prohibits anticompetitive acts, monopolies, mergers and unfair trade practices, and is to be enforced by the Myanmar Competition Commission. The enactment will satisfy Myanmar’s commitments under the AEC to introduce a competition policy by 2015. CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 4 PHILIPPINES On 21 July 2015, the President of the Philippines enacted the Philippine Competition Act, which came into force on 8 August 2015. This is the first generic competition legislation in the Philippines and is broadly similar to the competition framework in other ASEAN countries, regulating anti-competitive agreements, mergers and abuses of dominance. The Act is to be enforced by the Philippine Competition Commission. Details on the Philippine Competition Act can be accessed at http://eoasis.rajahtann.com/eoasis/gn/at.asp?pdf=../lu/pdf/2015-07-Philippine-CompetitionAct.pdf&module=LU&topic=LU000940&sec=b. THAILAND Since its introduction in 1999, Thailand’s Trade Competition Act has not been actively enforced. As such, to update the legislation and promote fair competition, the National Reform Council had in 2015 proposed several amendments to the Act. This follows from the proposed changes mooted by the Office of Thai Trade Competition Commission (“OTCC”) in 2014 to, amongst others, provide additional power and authority to the OTCC, extend the scope of the Trade Competition Act to cover certain state enterprises and affiliated companies of business operators, specify the criteria for triggering the application of the merger control provisions, amend the penalties for violating the substantive prohibitions in the Trade Competition Act and provide for the establishment of a leniency programme. The draft amendment by the National Reform Council is expected to be issued soon. Rest of Asia-Pacific AUSTRALIA Australia Competition Policy Review Final Report Issued On 31 March 2015, the Australian Competition Policy Review Panel released its final report, which sets out 56 recommendations to the Australian government to reform Australian competition law. The last comprehensive review of Australian competition law was carried out more than 20 years ago. The final report sets out several key recommendations, with the majority of them - 44 out of the 56 - having been accepted by the government. Some key recommendations that were accepted relate to the simplification of cartel laws, amendment of the joint venture exemption, and the introduction of block exemption, amongst others. As for the other recommendations, the government has either supported them in part, or has responded by noting the recommendations, and may revisit them at a later time. Foxtel’s Investment In Network Ten Approved By ACCC Foxtel’s proposed acquisition of 15% of rival Network Ten Holdings was approved by the Australia Competition And Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) on 22 October 2015. Foxtel holds a near monopoly in pay TV in Australia, but the ACCC determined that Foxtel’s acquisition would not lead to less competition, pointing out instead that the other free-to-air broadcasters, pay TV providers and most importantly online streaming TV providers will continue to have sufficient alternatives to allow them to obtain content that is attractive to their viewers. In this regard, ACCC pointed out that with technological advancements, such as online streaming TV, old regulations which considered the reach of a media provider may no longer be relevant in determining the market. CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 5 CHINA NDRC Issues Notice On Stepping Up Monitoring Of Prices In The Pharmaceutical Industry On 4 May 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) issued a notice detailing its intent to step up its monitoring of the pharmaceutical industry, and in particular, the pricing of drugs sold in the China market. The notice was issued in conjunction with another announcement by the Chinese government on its intention to remove government-regulated prices for most drugs and move towards a more market-based pricing regime for drugs. The notice makes clear that any monopolistic behaviour in the setting of prices of drugs is prohibited by the Anti-Monopoly Law. Examples of such behaviour include collusion and price fixing, abuse of a dominant position by setting high prices, controlling supply, and failing to provide clear prices. NDRC has also said it will focus in particular on drugs that do not have an alternative formulation, as well as specialised drugs that are used by a limited class of patients. Chinese Competition Authorities Step Up Cooperation With Other Countries’ Competition Regulators On 15 October 2015, China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), which oversees the merger control regime in China, and the European Commission (“EC”) signed a cooperative framework to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the 2 authorities. Through this framework, MOFCOM and the EC intend to facilitate communication and the sharing of information in the merger review process, on both procedural and substantive issues, including defining relevant markets, theories of harm, assessments of impacts on competition and possible remedies. Separately, in May 2015, MOFCOM had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Competition Bureau. NDRC, which oversees the price related aspects of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, also entered into a memorandum of understanding with Australia’s ACCC on 5 November 2015. The MOU is expected to lead to an increase in cooperation and information sharing between the 2 regulators. NDRC Issues Fines Totalling 407 Million Yuan To Members Of A Vehicle Shipping Cartel On 28 December 2015, NDRC announced that it has fined 7 vehicle shipping companies a total of 407 million yuan (approximately SGD 88.7 million) for participating in a global cartel that raised prices for the transportation of cars and other vehicles by “roll-on, roll-off” ships over a 4 year period, spanning China, North America, Europe and South America. NDRC had looked at 8 companies at the start of formal investigations, but 1 of the companies was eventually acquitted by after being successful in defending itself. China competition watchers note that this is likely the first time NDRC has acquitted a foreign company after it has launched formal investigations against it, and this move is lauded as correcting the perception that the NDRC does not acquit a company once formal investigations have been launched. HONG KONG Competition Ordinance Comes Into Full Effect On 14 December 2015, the Hong Kong Competition Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) came into full effect after being enacted for over 3 years since June 2012. Hong Kong now has an overarching competition law in place that regulates market conduct to prevent anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominance. The Ordinance’s merger control regime currently applies only to mergers involving entities which are holders of a telecommunication carrier licence. The Competition Commission issued 6 sets of Guidelines on 27 July 2015 to provide guidance on how the provisions of the Ordinance will be interpreted and enforced. CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 6 Application For A Block Exemption Order In Relation To Certain Liner Shipping Agreements On 17 December 2015, three days after the Ordinance came into full force, the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association (“HKLSA”) filed an application to the Competition Commission for a block exemption order to be made for certain liner shipping agreements. Section 15 of the Ordinance provides that the Competition Commission may issue such block exemption orders if it is persuaded that such agreements enhance the overall economic efficiency of a market. In its application, the HKLSA argued that such liner shipping agreements are essential to bring about certain efficiencies to ensure the sustainability of the liner shipping industry. The Competition Commission has stated it will not commence any investigations or proceedings relating to such liner shipping agreements while the application is pending. INDIA CCI Imposes For The First Time Penalties On Public Sector Undertakings For Bid Rigging On 16 July 2015, the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”) imposed total fines of 6.69 billion Indian rupees (approximately SGD 144.5 million) on 4 public sector insurance companies for bid rigging in relation to a tender for health insurance schemes for the Kerala government. This is thought to be the first time companies that are wholly owned by the Indian government have been penalised for bid rigging by CCI. In coming to its determination, CCI rejected claims by the 4 public companies that because they were all wholly owned by the Indian government, they formed a single economic unit. CCI held that as the companies placed separate bids, and that all the decisions relating to the bids were made at the level of the individual companies and not by the Ministry or at a governmental level, there was therefore no control of the 4 companies by the government and therefore they did not form a single economic unit. CCI Fines Three Air Cargo Carriers For Concerted Action In Fixing Prices Of Fuel Surcharge Rounding up a 2 year investigation, CCI on 17 November 2015 found 3 air cargo carriers guilty of collusion in fixing the prices of a fuel surcharge. Although the investigation did not turn up clear evidence of communications between the parties, CCI managed to draw an adverse inference by relying on the fact that the adjustments to the fuel surcharge by the 3 air cargo carriers were not supported by any market or technical justifications. In contrast, CCI did not find 2 other air cargo carriers guilty as they were able to demonstrate that they were not acting in concert with the other air cargo carriers by producing evidence which showed that changes to their fuel surcharge was based on the actual changes to the price of air fuel. JAPAN JFTC Concludes Cooperation Agreement With ACCC On 30 April 2015, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) concluded a Cooperation Agreement with ACCC, marking the first time JFTC has concluded an agreement that would enable it to share confidential information with a foreign agency without obtaining a waiver. JFTC Reasserts Extraterritorial Jurisdiction On 22 May 2015, JFTC announced its decision on appeal in the cathode ray tube cartel case, rejecting the appeals against its decisions of first instance in 2009 and 2010 to impose fines totalling ¥4.5 billion (approximately SGD 55.2 million) on 6 South-East Asian cathode ray tube manufacturers. The initial JFTC decision was notable for being the first time Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Act had been enforced against conduct that had taken place entirely outside Japanese territory. CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 7 In affirming its initial decision, JFTC continues to assert its extraterritorial jurisdiction over anticompetitive practices that occur overseas, so long as such practices lead to a substantial restriction of competition affecting consumers in Japan. NEW ZEALAND New Zealand Commerce Commission Rejects Proposed Acquisition Of Johnson & Johnson’s K-Y Business On 24 April 2015, the New Zealand Commerce Commission announced its decision to reject the proposed acquisition of the Johnson & Johnson’s K-Y business by the Reckitt Benckiser Group, which also owns Durex. The Commerce Commission held that the proposed acquisition would result in the substantial lessening of competition, in light of the fact that K-Y and Durex were “each other’s closest rivals” and that the competition between both was the “main constraint on wholesale prices”. It is notable that other regulators, such as those in the US, Brazil and the United Kingdom, have all allowed the proposed acquisition to go through. In this regard, the Commerce Commission has stated that New Zealand’s market was unique given the small number of brands available to the retailers. Fines Imposed For Attempted Anti-Competitive Behaviour On 3 December 2015, the New Zealand Commerce Commission initiated proceedings in the New Zealand High Court against Enviro Waste Services Limited (“Enviro Waste”), a waste oil company and one of its employees, for attempting to enter into an anti-competitive agreement with a competitor not to compete for each other’s customers. The employee had reportedly contacted the representatives of a competitor, Transpacific Industries Group Ltd (“Transpacific”) and intimated that if Transpacific did not stop competing for Enviro Waste’s customers in the waste oil market, Enviro Waste would start competing for Transpacific’s customers in the waste tallow market by entering into that market and paying for the customer’s waste tallow. Although no agreement was reached as Transpacific refused to cooperate, the High Court found that such behaviour was an infringement of the Commerce Act. The employee was fined NZ$5,000 (approximately SGD 4,700) and Enviro Waste was fined NZ$425,000 (approximately SGD 400,000). Criminalisation Of Cartel Behaviour Removed From Proposed Commerce Bill On 8 December 2015, New Zealand’s Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs announced that the Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (the “Commerce Amendment Bill”) will no longer contain provisions which make cartel conduct a criminal offence. This is to balance the advantages of making cartel conduct a criminal offence against the potential “chilling effect” it would have on “procompetitive behaviour between companies”. The criminalisation provisions were removed on the basis that the enhanced civil penalties set out in the Commerce Amendment Bill were likely to sufficiently disincentivise companies or individuals from engaging in cartel conduct. The Commerce Amendment Bill was first introduced on 13 October 2011 and is currently awaiting its final reading in Parliament. SOUTH KOREA Fines Levied Against Cartel No Chicken Feed On 2 July 2015, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) issued its decision to impose remedies and fines totaling ₩77.334 billion (approximately SGD 91 million) against a cartel consisting of 11 local compound feed manufacturers. Even though the infringers had taken special care to be cautious by fixing prices in a covert and undocumented manner, KFTC nevertheless managed to find and prove the CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 8 existence of the cartel, thereby disrupting the long-standing practice of collusion and abuse in the compound animal feed market. Korean Regulator Set To Lock Horns With Qualcomm Again Qualcomm Inc. has come under the scrutiny of KFTC, having been issued with a Case Examiner’s Report from the regulator on 18 November 2015. KFTC is investigating the chipmaker for allegedly restricting market competition through anti-competitive abuses of its patent licences. If Qualcomm is found to be in violation of anti-monopoly laws, things may be shaping up to be a repeat of events in 2009, where Qualcomm was fined ₩260 billion (approximately SGD 309.1 million) for its unfair business practices, which was at that point in time the highest fine ever levied by KFTC. TAIWAN Fair Trade Commission Fines Capacitor Companies On 9 December 2015, 7 aluminum capacitor companies and 3 tantalum capacitor companies received fines from the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission (“TFTC”) for participating in meetings and bilateral communications involving the exchange of sensitive business information such as price, quantity and terms of trade. According to a press release by TFTC, the anti-competitive conduct had been ongoing for almost a decade, with each company gaining considerable amounts of illegal profits in that period of time. Such aggravating factors were sufficient to warrant the imposition of fines totaling NT$5,796,600,000 (approximately SGD 249.2 million), which is the highest total fine ever imposed on international businesses by TFTC since its inception in 1992. EUROPE EC Clears Orange/Jazztel Transaction With Conditions In May 2015, the European Commission (“EC”) cleared the acquisition of the Spanish telecom operator Jazztel by the French-based telecom operator Orange, subject to conditions. The EC considered two interesting characteristics of the market – the rapid shift towards multiple play bundles and wide deployment of fibre networks by several players across the country. The EC acknowledged some of Orange’s efficiency claims, which includes the elimination of the double margins Jazztel had to pay for the access to Orange's mobile services. However, the EC established that these accepted efficiencies only partially offset the anti-competitive effects of the merger. To address these concerns, the EC accepted remedies aimed at the loss of competitive pressure as a result of the transaction, including divestment of a Fibre to the Home (FTTH) network as well as giving wholesale access to Jazztel's Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) network. EC Dawn Raids On Deutsche Bahn Found To Be Partly Illegal On 18 June 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) held that certain dawn raids by the EC on Deutsche Bahn AG (“DB”) were partly illegal. During the EC’s first inspection of Deutsche Bahn AG’s (“DB”) premises, the officials had found documents which appeared to indicate the existence of further anti-competitive conduct, the nature and scope of which was beyond the subject matter originally identified in the first inspection decision. The EC adopted a second inspection decision while the first inspection was still being carried out. Later, the EC adopted a third inspection decision which allowed it to return to DB’s premises to seek further evidence relating to suspected competition law infringements by DB. DB appealed the validity of the inspection decisions. The ECJ held that the EC had exceeded its powers during the first inspection and as the documents illegally obtained during the first inspection had CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 9 been used as the basis for the adoption of the second and third inspection decisions and those latter two decisions must be annulled. EC Has Wide Powers To Seize Documents Relating To Activities Outside The EU On 25 June 2014, the ECJ dismissed an appeal by French company Nexans seeking to limit the EC’s powers to seize documents in dawn raids. During the raid on Nexans’ premises in France in 2009, EC had examined documents relating to markets outside the EU. Nexans appealed to the ECJ arguing that the geographic scope of the EC’s inspection decision was overly broad and failed to be sufficiently precise or sufficiently justified. The ECJ upheld the judgment of the General Court of the European Union and confirmed that the EC is not required to limit its investigations to documents relating to EU markets only – by indicating that the suspected agreements and/or concerted practices “probably have a global reach”, the EC had sufficiently described the geographical scope of the suspected cartel. The ECJ ruled that given that the EC had suspicions that the infringement has global reach, the documents concerning projects outside the EU were likely to provide relevant information on the suspected infringement that affected the EU market, and the EC had acted well within its rights. New EC Guidelines On Joint Selling Of Olive Oil, Beef And Veal, And Arable Crops On 27 November 2015, the EC published guidelines on the application of EU competition law rules to joint sales of olive oil, beef and veal, and arable crops under the new Common Agricultural Policy (“CAP”). Joint selling (including fixing prices together) is normally prohibited by standard competition rules under Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) unless certain conditions are met. However, the new CAP rules allow the joint selling of olive oil, beef and veal and arable crops without infringing Article 101 of the TFEU if they are organised in producer organisations which do not exceed certain sizes and if the producer organisations fulfil certain conditions. UNITED KINGDOM Reforms On Private Enforcement Of Competition Law In UK On 1 October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA 2015”) brought into force new rules affecting private competition actions in the UK. The overarching aim of the new rules is to make it easier for consumers and smaller businesses to bring private enforcement actions through the courts where there has been an infringement of competition law. Some of the reforms under the CRA 2015 include the widening of jurisdiction of the Competition Appeal Tribunal ("CAT") to hear ‘stand-alone’ cases and to grant injunctions. The CRA 2015 also introduced a new fast-track procedure. Further, an opt-out collective actions and settlement regime has been instituted. Under the opt-out collective actions regime, claimants would be automatically included into the action unless they “opt out” in a manner prescribed by the CAT on a case by case basis. The new opt-out collective settlement procedure allows businesses to settle cases on a collective basis. The CRA 2015 also sets out provisions relating to the introduction and approval of voluntary redress schemes as an alternative method of dispute resolution. On this, CMA has published guidance on how businesses can apply to CMA for approval of redress schemes, how CMA will assess and approve such applications, the framework for determining penalty reductions, and how an approved redress scheme may be enforced. Limitations To Access Of Documents In Cartel Damages Claims On 14 October 2015, the UK Court of Appeal handed down a judgment that addressed, among other matters, the disclosure of EC infringement decision, in British Airways v Emerald Supplies Limited & Others  EWCA Civ 1024. The High Court had ordered for the full, unredacted EC decision to be disclosed to the claimants in a follow-on claim, albeit within a confidentiality ring and subject to certain safeguards. The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision and held that disclosing the CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 10 unredacted decision would run contrary to the right of the non-addressees of the decision to the presumption of innocence, i.e. every person who is accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty according to law, and infringes the protection of professional secrecy. The Court held that the confidentiality ring and safeguards that was ordered at first instance had failed to provide the absolute protection conferred onto the non-addressees. As such, the claimants were denied access to a confidential version of the EC decision. Other Jurisdictions AFRICA South Africa Investigates Foreign Currency Traders The South African Competition Commission (“SACC”) announced on 19 May 2015 that it had commenced an investigation against a number of global banks, including BNP Paribas and Barclays PLC, for engaging in price-fixing activities. According to the press release issued by SACC, the traders allegedly fixed the prices in relation to bids, offers and bid-offer spreads in respect of spot, futures and forwards currency trades. This is in line with investigations commenced by a number of competition authorities, including the EC, on financial investigations in the last couple of years. South Africa Publishes Draft Guidelines For Assessing Public Interest Provisions In Mergers On 22 December 2015, SACC issued for public consultation its draft guidelines on its proposed approach when assessing public interest provisions for a merger. SACC proposed using a 2 line enquiry process, depending on whether or not a merger is likely to raise competition concerns. While the public interest provisions assessment is similar to the Net Economic Benefits test, the enquiry process proposed by SACC differs from the approach taken by CCS and other established competition jurisdictions. Hence, it will be interesting to see how this test will be applied in time to come. Earlier in the year, SACC also issued a new set of guidelines on its calculation of administration penalties for infringing conduct, which came into effect on 1 May 2015. The 6-step process set out by SACC roughly mirrors the process set out by CCS in its draft revised guidelines on the same, save that in South Africa, the maximum penalty that can be imposed is 10% of the undertaking’s turnover derived from or within South Africa. Merger Assessment Guidelines Issued In Malawi And Zambia In December 2015, the Malawi Competition and Fair Trading Commission (“CFTC”) issued its merger assessment guidelines. However, this set of guidelines does not set out merger notification thresholds. This position is similar to that in Singapore whereby the merger notification regime is voluntary and there are no fixed merger notification thresholds, and it is up to parties to conduct a self-assessment on whether their proposed transaction is likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in Malawi. The Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) also issued its merger assessment guidelines in 2015. Unlike the position in Singapore, a merger must be mandatorily notified to CCPC if the combined asset value or turnover figure for the merger parties is 50 million fee units (approximately SGD 2.1 million). BRAZIL Brazil Competition Authority Investigates Foreign Currency Traders In line with a number of other competition authorities, Brazil’s antitrust regulator, the Administrative Council of Economic Defense, announced in July 2015 that it had commenced an investigation of a CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 11 number of financial institutions, including Barclays, Morgan Stanley & Co and Royal Bank of Canada. According to the regulator, the financial institutions coordinated on currency transactions and price data. This investigation by the regulator makes clear that financial institutions, regardless of size, are not immune from probes by the regulators where there is suspected infringement of competition laws. CANADA Competition Tribunal Gives Conditional Approval To Pfizer Acquisition On 13 August 2015, Canada’s Competition Tribunal published its decision regarding Pfizer Inc’s proposed acquisition of Hospira Inc. The Competition Tribunal was of the view that the acquisition was likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the Canadian markets for certain pharmaceutical products, namely methotrexate sodium tablets, injectable cytarabine, injectable epirubicin hydrochloride and injectable voriconazole. In order to remedy the anti-competitive concerns raised by the Competition Tribunal, Pfizer entered into a registered consent agreement with the Canadian Competition Bureau, agreeing inter alia to divest a portion of its Canadian assets upon the conclusion of its proposed acquisition of Hospira. The Competition Tribunal took the view that such divestiture would be sufficient to prevent a substantial lessening or prevention of competition in the relevant pharmaceutical markets. UNITED STATES Amex’s Non-Discrimination Provisions Violate Antitrust Laws On 19 February 2015, a US District court ruled that Non-Discrimination Provisions (“NDPs”) contained in the agreements entered into by Amex and its card merchants contravened Section 1 of the Sherman Act. These NDPs prevented an estimated 3.4 million merchants from steering customers to credit card brands belonging to American Express (“Amex”)’s competitors. Merchants were prohibited from incentivising customers for using cards which charged lower merchant fees than Amex, thereby translating into higher costs and increased prices for consumers. Amex enforced these anti-steering rules strictly, with merchants facing the risk of termination should they fail to adhere to them. This was found to restrict inter-brand competition and raise barriers to entry to the market for general purpose credit and charge card network services. DOJ Antitrust Division Prosecutes E-Commerce Retailers For Price Fixing In April and December 2015, on separate occasions, 2 online retailers were charged with conspiring with other sellers to fix the price of certain posters sold on the Amazon Marketplace in the US. Both used specific pricing algorithms to coordinate changes in prices of the said posters pursuant to the collusive agreements. Under the Sherman Act, the defendants may be sentenced to prison for a maximum of 10 years and fined up to USD 1 million. As the e-commerce scene becomes more robust, it is expected that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and other competition authorities will review and step up on their antitrust enforcement measures to enhance the protection of online consumers. To this end, CCS had recently conducted a study exploring the opportunities and challenges of fair competition in the ecommerce market. Five Of The World’s Largest Financial Institutions Guilty Of Manipulating The Foreign Exchange Market On 20 May 2015, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Barclays and The Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for US Dollars and Euros exchanged in the Foreign Exchange (“FX”) market. Another bank, UBS, pleaded guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). The 4 aforementioned banks are market leaders handling at least 25% of US Dollars – Euro exchange rate transactions each year. Their anticompetitive conduct started as early as December 2007 and lasted until January 2013. These financial institutions were liable to fines amounting CLIENT UPDATE 2016 JANUARY COMPETITION © Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 12 to nearly USD 3 billion collectively, due to the long duration and egregious nature of their misconduct. As noted, this is in line with investigations commenced by a number of competition authorities, including the EC, on financial investigations in the last couple of years. Apple Charged For Participating In Unlawful E-Book Price Fixing Conspiracy With Five Major Publishers On 30 June 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the district court’s decision that the conspiracy between Apple and 5 of the largest book publishers in the US (namely, Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillian, Penguin and Simon & Schuster) to raise e-book prices was an unreasonable “restraint of trade” within the meaning of the Sherman Act. Apple included a clause in agreements entered into with the publishers, requiring them to price their books in the iBookstore at the same level as other e-book sellers. As Amazon priced its books uniformly at USD 9.99, a level at or below wholesale prices, this meant that the publishers received even less after deducting the 30% commission charged by Apple. Hence, the aforesaid clause forced the publishers to seize control over pricing from e-book retailers. This was deemed to have violated antitrust laws as it eliminated price competition between Apple and other e-book retailers. CONCLUSION The snap-shot provided in this update is just that. There are numerous more similar cases across the globe that could trip businesses. A further important aspect is as businesses cross jurisdictions, they must remember that competition laws, whilst similar across different countries, do nevertheless have nuances. This could mean no violation in one country but a violation in another. Hence, a careful but quick review is always necessary. 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