12th Annual Georgetown Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium – Debating the Latest Issues with Covington’s Johan Ysewyn and Jim O’Connell

On 25 September 2018, Covington’s Johan Ysewyn and Jim O’Connell will speak on cartels and merger enforcement, respectively, at the 12th Annual Georgetown Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium in Washington DC.

This Symposium serves as a leading forum for in-house and outside counsel, policymakers, corporate executives, economists and academics to discuss the most recent issues in competition law and policy. Continue Reading

The UK Government Issues ‘No-deal’ Competition and Merger Guidance

The UK Government published its highly-anticipated technical guidance on merger review and anti-competitive activity on 13 September 2018 which will apply in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit (the ‘Guidance’). Although brief, it provides market players with some form of practical advice and insights on what to expect, how cases are likely to be divided between the EU and UK regimes, how UK competition law will develop, and suggests in what ways post-Brexit competition damages actions in the UK Courts may change. This Guidance follows on from the previously released ‘no-deal’ state aid guidance – as was covered in our previous Covington alert – forming part of a larger suite of ‘no-deal’ Brexit guidance papers released by the Government in recent weeks.

The Guidance provides several key pieces of practical advice for businesses regarding different types of competition law processes in the wake of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Continue Reading

The German Monopolies Commission’s Proposals Regarding Pricing Algorithms

The German Monopolies Commission (Monopolkommission), an independent body advising the German federal government and legislature on competition law and policy, recently published its Twenty-second Biennial Report (“Report”) in which it outlined recommendations to adapt the German legal framework to account for what it characterized as new competition challenges faced by the increasing and irreversible digitisation of many parts of the economy (please see the Summary Report here and Press Release here, both available in English). Of particular interest is the Monopolies Commission’s proposed approach to anti-competitive algorithm-based pricing. Continue Reading

Buying a Pig in a Poke: Financial Investor Antitrust Liability on the Rise

On 5 September 2018, the District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that private equity firm Lion Capital must face trial in class action litigation alongside its portfolio company Bumble Bee Seafoods, in a case alleging price-fixing in the market for canned tuna.  In the wake of the European Court’s judgment in the Power Cables cartel saga over the summer, the trend that a financial investor (be it a bank or a private equity company) may be held liable for the behaviour of its portfolio company now seems to be of transatlantic proportions. Continue Reading

Apple / Shazam: Determining the value of data in merger cases

On April 23, the European Commission (“Commission”) opened an in-depth investigation of Apple’s acquisition of Shazam in order to, in the words of Commissioner Vestager, ensure that “music fans won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger”. On September 6, 2018, the Commission concluded its investigation, issuing an unconditional clearance.

This story’s protagonists hardly need introduction. Apple is one of the world’s major tech companies, and the provider of the ‘Apple Music’ streaming service. Shazam, in turn, provides a leading music recognition app. However, as is not unusual with consumer-facing apps, Shazam generates relatively little turnover. Continue Reading

UK’s Financial Conduct Authority gives guidance on future priorities, FinTech and Brexit

The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) has published its third Annual Competition Report which focusses on its proposals for promoting competition and innovation, particularly with respect to the impact of FinTech on UK financial services. It also addresses the FCA’s ongoing role in supporting the UK Government prepare for Brexit, and uphold an orderly transition as part of the withdrawal process – avoiding any cliff edges – for UK financial markets.

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UK government publishes “no-deal” state aid notice

On 23 August 2018, the UK government published a  notice, committing the UK to a continued application of state aid rules even in the event of no deal being agreed with the EU on the UK’s withdrawal. The notice explains how EU state aid rules would be transposed into UK domestic legislation. The Competition and Markets Authority will take the role of enforcement and supervision for the whole UK and the rules will apply to all sectors and all businesses with operations in the UK – whether UK, EU or third country based. UK businesses and EU businesses with operations in the UK will still be able to receive state aid from UK public authorities in accordance with the UK state aid rules.

This notice is one of a first round of 25 technical notices advising businesses and citizens on how to mitigate and plan the consequences if the UK and the EU do not reach a deal by Brexit day. These “no-deal” notices are a first part of 80 technical notices to be expected in the coming weeks and cover  a broad range of areas.

Compliance Plus? Proposed fine reductions for audited, strengthened compliance programs

Compliance, and in particular competition compliance, remains at the top of in-house counsel’s agenda. In particular, compliance is fundamental to reducing competition law infringements – “prevention is better than cure” – but in-house counsel often face difficulties in getting the appropriate level of support and budget for effective competition law compliance.

We have recently published an article which puts forward a policy proposal to the European Commission (“Commission”) that would not only support companies in their competition compliance efforts, but also the Commission in its enforcement of EU cartel rules. Continue Reading

Covington Alert: UK Payment Systems Regulator Announces Market Review into Card-Acquiring Services

The UK Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has announced its intention to carry out a market review into the supply to merchants of card-acquiring services by financial services providers. In this Covington Alert, my colleagues Louise Freeman, Charlotte Hill and Elaine Whiteford look at the powers the PSR holds, why the review has been initiated and possible outcomes, as well as commenting on the increasing use of competition powers by sectoral regulators. Access the alert here.

Concurrences Article – Leniency and Competition Law: An Overview of EU and National Case Law

More than 20 years after the adoption of the first European Commission Leniency Notice, the detection and sanctioning of cartels remains a key feature of the enforcement agenda of the European Commission and – the currently still 28 – European Union national competition authorities. Leniency programmes are a crucial tool in uncovering cartels, with a large majority of cartel decisions adopted by European competition authorities based on immunity and leniency applications. But for how long?

Read my colleagues’ – Johan Ysewyn and Jennifer Boudet – full article in this month’s Concurrences Bulletin http://www.concurrences.com/en/bulletin/special-issues/leniency/procedures/leniency-and-competition-law-an-overview-of-eu-and-national-case-law-72355, also attached for our Covington Competition Blog Subscribers here. Johan Ysewyn, Jennifer Boudet, Leniency and competition law: An overview of EU and national case law, 2 August 2018, e-Competitions Bulletin Leniency, Art. N° 72355.

 

 

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