Competition: Commission fines smart card chip producers EUR 138 million for cartel

The Commission has imposed fines totalling EUR 138 on four smart card chip producers, namely Infineon, Philips, Samsung and Renesas (at the time a joint venture of Hitachi and Mitshubishi), for coordinating their market behavior for smart card chips in the European Economic Area (“EEA”) in breach of EU competition rules. Smart card chips are used in mobile telephone SIM cards, bank cards, identity cards and passports, pay TV cards, and various other applications. According to the Commission, the companies involved in the cartel colluded through a network of bilateral contacts in the period between September 2003 and September 2005 in order to determine their respective responses to customers' requests to lower prices. Further, the companies also discussed and exchanged sensitive commercial information on pricing, customers, contract negotiations, production capacity or capacity utilization and their future market. The Commission had initially explored the possibility of settling the case with some of the companies involved under the Commission's 2008 Settlement Notice but, because of the clear lack of progress of these discussions, decided to discontinue the settlement discussions and to revert to the normal procedure in 2012. Renesas benefitted full immunity under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice for revealing the existence of the cartel to the Commission. Source: Commission Press Release 03/09/2014

Competition: Commission closes proceedings against MathWorks

On 2 September 2014, the Commission announced that it has decided to closed proceedings against MathWorks Inc (“MathWorks”), a U.S.-based software company. In February 2012, the Commission opened a formal investigation following a complaint alleging that MathWorks had refused to provide a competitor with end-user software licences and accompanying interoperability information for its flagship products “Simulink” and “MATLAB” which are widely used for designing and simulating control systems. The Commission’s investigation focused on whether MathWork’s behavior had prevented competitors from achieving interoperability with the said products and thereby hindered competition in breach of Article 102 TFEU. Source: Commission Daily News 02/09/2014 and Commission Press Release 01/03/2012

EU: President-elect Juncker interviews candidates for Commissioner

On 2 September 2014, the Commission announced that President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker will interview each Member State’s candidate for Commissioner before taking a final decision and communicating the list of Commissioners-designate to the Council of the European Union. The purpose of the interviews is to determine each candidate’s ability to serve as a European Commissioner in the light of Article 17(3) of the Treaty of European Union (“TEU”). Presiden-elect Juncker has already interviewed Federica Mogherini as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security  Policy before giving his agreement to the European Council’s proposal for her appointment. After the final list of Commissioners-designate is adopted in common accord with the Council of the European Union in accordance with Article 17(7) of TEU President-elect Juncker intends to announce the distribution of portfolios and the way he intends to organise the work of the next European Commission. Source: Commission Press Release 02/09/2014

In addition, kindly note the following merger control decisions by the Commission which are published on the website of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition:

  • Commission approves acquisition of Gina Tricot by Nordic Capital
  • Commission approves acquisition of HES Beheer by Riverstone and Carlyle
  • Commission approves acquisition of MICROS by Oracle
  • Commission approves acquisition of the Pulp, Paper and Packaging Business of the Rank Group by Oji Holdings Corporation and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan
  • Commission approves joint venture between Constellium and Tri-Arrows in automotive supply sector
  • Commission approves acquisition of JP Morgan Chase's commodities trading business by Mercuria