EU Mergers

Phase I Clearance

  • M.6983 – Steinhoff International Holdings / Kika / Leiner (5.11.2013).
  • M.7071 – Telenor / Schibsted / Singapore Press Holdings / JV (simplified review).

Phase II Investigations

Commission opens Phase II investigation into INEOS / Solvay JV (M.6905).

On 5 November 2013, the European Commission (Commission) announced an in-depth investigation to assess whether a proposed joint venture by INEOS and Solvay may affect competition in the markets for suspension polyvinyl chloride (S-PVC - a type of resin used for the manufacture of pipes, moulded fittings, window and door frames) and sodium hypochlorite (or bleach - used for water treatment, disinfection and laundry bleaching). The Commission rejected the commitments proposed by the parties and has concerns that the joint venture may not face sufficiently strong competition in the markets for S-PVC in the EEA and in North-West Europe and for bleach in the Benelux (IP/13/1040).

Commission opens Phase II investigation into Hutchison 3G UK / Telefónica Ireland merger (M.6992). On 6 November 2013, the Commission announced it had opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the planned acquisition of Telefónica Ireland by Hutchison 3G UK (H3G) may affect competition in the markets for retail mobile telephony and for wholesale access and call origination in Ireland. The Commission’s initial concerns are that the proposed transaction—which would involve combine two of the four mobile networks in Ireland creating a player of similar size to the currently largest operator—would negatively affect the competitive conditions in Ireland. The Commission now has 90 working days to take a decision (IP/13/1048).

UK Antitrust

High Court grants interim injunction in Chapter II Prohibition/Article 102 TFEU proceedings. On 5 November 2013, the High Court granted applications for interim injunctions in proceedings concerning an alleged refusal by Barclays Bank to supply certain banking services to the applicants. The underlying proceedings relate to the implementation by Barclays of a decision to reduce its exposure to the money services sector. The claimants contend that, by giving them notice of its intention to withdraw banking services from their businesses, Barclays has acted (or is threatening to act) contrary to the Chapter II Prohibition/Article 102 TFEU. According to the claimants, Barclays has a dominant position in the market for the provision of banking services to money service businesses. The claimants applied for an interim injunction to restrain Barclays from terminating the supply of banking services until after a determination of the merits at trial. On 5 November 2013, the High Court duly granted the requested interim injunctions. Mr. Justice Henderson found that there was a serious issue to be tried as to whether Barclays has a dominant position in the relevant market(s). Mr. Justice Henderson concluded that it was “all but self-evident that damages would not be an adequate remedy” and that the balance of convenience favoured the grant rather than the refusal of interim relief (Dahabshiil Transfer Services Limited v Barclays Bank plc and Harada Limited and Berkeley Credit and Guarantee Limited v Barclays Bank plc [2013] EWHC 3379 (Ch)).

Court of Appeal dismisses Chemistree appeal in Chapter II Prohibition/Article 102 TFEU proceedings. On 7 November 2013, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Chemistree Homecare Limited (Chemistree) related to the dismissal by the High Court in February 2013 of Chemistree’s application for an interim injunction in the context of Chapter II Prohibition/Article 102 TFEU proceedings. The Court of Appeal held inter alia that the High Court had not erred in holding that Chemistree did not have a real prospect of success in establishing that the defendant had a dominant market position – Chemistree had failed to demonstrate that a significant proportion of patients existed who would be unable to switch to another form of protease inhibitor (Chemistree Homecare Ltd v Abbvie Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1338).

UK Mergers

Court of Appeal grants Akzo Nobel permission to appeal CC prohibition decision in Akzo/Metlac merger. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has published an order of the Court of Appeal granting an application by Akzo Nobel NV (Akzo) permission to appeal against the June 2013 CAT judgment upholding the Competition Commission's (CC) prohibition decision in Akzo Nobel/ Metlac (see Volume 1, Edition 39).

CC issues draft final Order Ryanair / Aer Lingus merger for public consultation.

On 5 November 2013, the CC issued a draft final Order setting out how it intends to implement the remedies set out in the Ryanair / Aer Lingus final report (CC Press Release). In August 2013, the CC decided that Ryanair’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus had led or may be expected to lead to a SLC between the airlines on routes between Great Britain and Ireland. The CC has required Ryanair to reduce its minority shareholding in Aer Lingus to five per cent (see Volume 1, Edition 44).

Sanctions

Al-Qaida

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1091/2013 (OJ L 293/36, 5.11.2013) amending Annex I to Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al-Qaida network. The Implementing Regulation includes additional designated persons in Annex I.

Speeches & Publications

Speech by the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, Joaquín Almunia. Antitrust damages in EU law and policy (College of Europe GCLC Annual Conference, 7 November 2013).

Commission publishes a demonstration on electronic data export during inspections. On 4 November 2013, the Commission published on its website a demonstration showing how DG Comp exports electronic copies of documents during inspections, Viewing electronic data during inspections.

Commission consultation on draft Guidelines on State aid. On 5 November 2013, the Commission published draft revised guidelines on state aid for rescuing and restructuring undertakings in financial difficulty (proposal and note). Comments can be submitted until 31 December 2013. The Commission plans to adopt new guidelines in the first half of 2014 (IP/13/1037).