EU Competition

Appeal made by Riberebro against canned mushrooms cartel decision. On 8 August 2016, the Official Journal published details of an appeal lodged by Grupo Riberebro Integral SL and Riberebro Integral SA (Riberebro) in respect of the European Commission’s (Commission) decision to impose a fine for their participation in the canned mushrooms cartel and, in particular, in its assessment of Riberebro’s inability to pay the fine imposed; and its alleged failure to observe the principle of proportionality (due to its failure to take into account Riberebro’s limited portfolio of products).

EU Mergers

Phase I Mergers

  • M.8020 SHERWIN-WILLIAMS / VALSPAR (10 August 2016)
  • M.8098  ITALMOBILIARE / CLESSIDRA SGR (5 August 2016)
  • M.8141 WATLING STREET / SAGEMCOM (10 August 2016)

Konecrane’s acquisition of Terex's crane and container handling business conditionally approved. On 8 August 2016, the Commission announced that it had approved Konecrane’s acquisition of Terex's Material Handling & Port Solutions’ (Terex) crane and container handling business, subject to conditions. The Commission found that the acquisition would create significant overlaps between Konecrane and Terex in the supply of electric chain hoists and wire rope hoists, used for cranes and container handling equipment. The Commission has accepted Konecrane’s commitments to divest its entire Stahl global business for hoists, cranes, and other handling materials, including the associated production facility based in Germany in order to obtain approval.

Phase II Mergers

Phase II investigation opened into Dow/DuPont merger. On 11 August 2016, the Commission announced that it has opened an in-depth Phase II investigation into the proposed merger between The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). Both companies are active in the markets for crop protection, seeds, and certain petrochemicals. According to the Commission, the proposed merger would create the world's largest integrated crop protection and seeds company and leading integrated producer of certain petrochemical products (used in packaging and adhesive applications), in two markets that are already concentrated. Dow and DuPont previously submitted commitments to the Commission to address its concerns, but the Commission considered these commitments insufficient to remedy the alleged competition issues.

State Aid

French aid for combined heat and power plants approved. On 9 August 2016, the Commission announced that it had approved a State aid scheme to be provided by the French government to support combined heat and power plants using natural gas. The Commission found that the scheme will help France to reach its energy efficiency and CO2 emission reduction targets, and will “improve energy efficiency, in line with EU energy and climate goals, without unduly distorting competition”.

UK Competition

Initial Enforcement Order issued in respect of Novo Invest/Talarius merger. On 9 August 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an Initial Enforcement Order (IEO) issued to Novo Invest GmbH and Novomatic UK Ltd (together, Novo) in respect of the completed acquisition of Talarius Limited (Talarius). The IEO prevents Novo from taking any pre-emptive action to integrate its business with Talarius, pursuant to section 72(2) of the Enterprise Act 2002.

Initial Enforcement Order issued in respect of Bridgepoint/Dining Club/State Bidco merger. On 10 August 2016, the CMA published an IEO issued to Bridgepoint Group Limited (Bridgepoint), Dining Club Group Limited (DCGL) and State Bidco Limited (SBL) in respect of the acquisition by Bridgepoint (through DCGL and SBL) of Hi-Life Diners Club Limited. The IEO prevents any pre-emptive action being taken to integrate the businesses pending the outcome of the CMA’s investigation.

Ofcom closes competition investigation into joint selling arrangements for broadcasting Premier League matches on grounds of administrative priority. On 8 August 2016, Ofcom announced that it had closed its investigation to a suspected breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and/or Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (CA) by the Football Association Premier League Limited (FAPL) in respect of its collective selling arrangements for live UK audio-visual media rights to Premier League matches. Ofcom has closed its investigation following FAPL’s decision to increase the number of matches available for live broadcast in the UK; and to introduce a new rule for its next auction for live TV rights, to prevent one single purchaser for being awarded broadcasting rights. Ofcom believes that, as a result of these developments, its resources could be used more effectively on other priorities to benefit consumers and competition.

CMA publishes decision in respect of restrictive agreements between GSK and generic manufacturers in relation to the UK paroxetine market. On 10 August 2016, the CMA published the non-confidential version of its decision finding there had been a breach of Chapter I of the CA and Article 101 of the TFEU, in respect of the UK Paroxetine market. In particular, the CMA found that pharmaceutical originator company GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) had entered into a number of agreements pursuant to which generic manufacturers agreed to cease efforts to enter the UK paroxetine market, thereby preventing generic competition against GSK in the UK market.

CMA publishes AAH Pharmaceuticals/MATSA/Sanger merger decision. On 10 August 2016, the CMA published its decision to approve the completed acquisition by AAH Pharmaceuticals Limited (AAH) of Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad Limited and Sangers (Northern Ireland) Limited (together, MATSA-Sangers). In its decision, the CMA notes that AAH and MATSA-Sangers’ activities overlapped in the wholesale of pharmaceutical products, mainly to pharmacies, dispensing doctors and hospitals. The CMA, however, found that the merger was unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition. In particular, it found that: (a) Alliance Healthcare Distribution Limited (Alliance Boots) has advanced plans to enter into the Northern Ireland market, and that there are indications that (as a result of the merger) Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Limited (Phoenix), would also be expanding its Northern Ireland wholesale pharmaceuticals operations; (b) there would be further competitive constraint from short-line wholesalers; and (c) as manufacturer contracts are generally negotiated on a national (UK-wide) basis (although some parts of the contract may then be sub-contracted), Alliance Boots would likely provide sufficient competitive constraint post-merger.

CMA publishes notice of proposal to accept final undertakings in Iron Mountain/Recall merger. On 10 August 2016, the CMA published its Notice of proposal to accept final undertakings from Iron Mountain Inc.(Iron Mountain), together with the draft final undertakingsprovided by Iron Mountain. The CMA has invited comments by 25 August 2016.