Antitrust

General Court adopts judgment on dominance abuse fine against Intel. On 12 June 2014, the General Court rejected Intel’s appeal of a €1.06 billion antitrust fine imposed following findings that Intel had abused its dominant position in the market for x86 central processing units (Case T-286/09). The General Court dismissed Intel’s action in its entirety.

Commission probes possible tax advantages to Apple, Starbucks, and Fiat Finance & Trade. On 11 June 2014, the Commission announced the commencement of in-depth probes into whether tax authorities in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg have underestimated the taxable profit of, respectively, Apple, Starbucks, and Fiat Finance & Trade (IP/14/663). The Commission has concern over the national tax authorities’ approval of transfer pricing arrangements on goods and services exchanged between subsidiaries of the same group.

Cartels

ECJ rules that cartel members can be liable for damages resulting from umbrella pricing. On 5 June 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down a ruling on a reference from an Austrian court on the question of whether cartel members can be held liable for damages caused by companies that were not members of the cartel, by having charged higher prices than they would have been able to in competitive conditions absent the cartel (umbrella pricing) (Case C-557/12). The ECJ ruled that Article 101 precludes domestic law from categorically excluding any civil liability of cartel members for umbrella pricing.

ECJ judges reject Deltafina tobacco cartel appeal, but rule lower court took too long. On 12 June 2014, the ECJ handed down its judgment on an appeal lodged by Deltafina to challenge a General Court judgment that upheld its liability for the Italian raw tobacco cartel. The ECJ ruled that while the General Court failed to adjudicate the matter within a reasonable time, this could not lead to the annulment of the General Court’s judgment. Rather, it gave Deltafina a right to bring an action for damages. (Case C-578/11).

EU Mergers

Phase I Clearance

  • M.7240 – Le Havre Vauban / Le Havre Lafayette / Klepierre / ING (05.06.2014)
  • M.7212 – MMC Superalloy / Hitachi Metals / Mitsubishi Materials (10.06.2014)
  • M.7269 – CABB International GmbH / Kallisto (10.06.2014)
  • M.7245 – Katara Hospitality / InterContinental Hotels Group (10.06.2014)
  • M.7214 – Ibericar K / BMW / PAG / Ibericar (10.06.2014)
  • M.7233 – UnipolSai Assicurazioni / Allianz (10.06.2014)
  • M.7225 – Fiumaranuova / ING / Allianz (11.06.2014)

Phase II Clearance

  • M.7009 – Cemex West / Holcim (05.06.2014)

State Aid

Opinion of Committee of the Regions on new guidelines for state aid for energy. On 7 June 2014, the Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on new guidelines for state aid for energy was published in the Official Journal (Opinion 2014/C 174/05). The Committee set out its views on European energy policy generally and also the appropriateness of state aid in energy. While it supported a number of aspects of the Commission’s approach to assessing state aid in the energy field it made various comments, including about the need to ensure that regional and local considerations are taken into account.

Commission approves 2014-2020 regional aid maps for Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal. On 11 June 2014, the European Commission announced its approval of the regional aid maps for 2014 to 2020 for Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal under the new Regional Aid Guidelines (IP/14/661 (Luxembourg), IP/14/662 (Croatia) and IP/14/666 (Portugal)). The regional aid maps define the regions in each Member State that are eligible for national regional investment aid in accordance with the Regional Aid Guidelines and establishes the maximum aid levels for companies receiving aid in the eligible regions.

Commission publishes final guidance on a common methodology for state aid evaluation. On the 4 June 2014, the Commission published a staff working document setting out guidance on a common methodology for state aid evaluation (Guidance). This followed a consultation issued in November 2013. The state aid guidelines and frameworks, which have been revised as part of the state aid modernisation project, contain provisions requiring member states to conduct evaluations of certain aid schemes.

UK Antitrust

CMA consults on modified commitments offered by Epyx. On 5 June 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a consultation on its intention to accept modified commitments offered by epyx Limited (Epyx) to address competition concerns regarding Epyx’s conduct in the market for the supply of service, maintenance and repair platforms in the UK (Case CE/9496-11). Following responses to the Office of Fair Trading’s consultation on proposed commitments, the CMA has concluded that the initial commitments were not sufficient to fully address the competition concerns identified.

UK Mergers

CMA decision on acquisition by Smith & Nephew of ArthroCare Corporation. On 10 June 2014, the CMA published the full text of its Decision on the anticipated acquisition by Smith & Nephew plc of ArthroCare Corporation. The CMA announced its decision not to refer this merger to a Phase 2 investigation under the Enterprise Act 2002 on 21 May 2014. Although the merged entity would have a high share of supply of bipolar radio frequency (RF) ablation devices, the CMA found that the parties were not each other’s closest competitors and that customers will continue to have viable alternatives. Therefore, the merged entity would face significant competitive constraints following the merger. No competition concerns were raised in any of the other areas of overlap.

Speeches & Publications

Commission publishes new policy brief on standard essential patents (SEP). SEP Policy Brief