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Two-minute Recap of Competition Law Matters Around the Globe – October 2022

UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) completes its review of Meta’s Giphy deal

In November 2021, the CMA found that Meta’s acquisition of Giphy could harm social media users and advertisers and ordered Meta to sell Giphy. After Meta’s appeal, the Competition Appeal Tribunal noted that the CMA’s finding that the transaction may substantially harm competition was lawful, but also found that the CMA breached Meta’s right to defend itself, stating that it “wrongly excised portions from the Decision” as the CMA tried to remove the confidential information of third parties. After the remittal process, the CMA again ordered Meta to divest Giphy.

Pharma companies under the microscope

  • Korea’s Federal Trade Commission (“KTFC”) fines AstraZeneca and Alvogen USD 1.82 million: Korean generic drug maker Alvogen suspended its plan to release a generic version of Zoladex, a treatment for prostate and breast cancer originally developed by AstraZeneca. In return, the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca granted exclusive rights to its generic rival to sell three types of AstraZeneca products in Korea. Consequently, the KFTC stated that the deal cut off the possibility of lower drug costs while it also hindered innovation in the pharmaceutical market by reducing R&D incentives.
  • Merck fined EUR 39 million in Spain for hindering the competition of generics rival: Spain’s National Markets and Competition Commission ruled that Merck had a monopoly from 2002–2018 on vaginal contraceptive rings in Spain. Merck, by hiding factual and technical information and misleading the court, obtained an order that prevented Insud Pharma from manufacturing its vaginal rings in Spain, which is practically the only country where it operates. Merck’s strategy was considered as a very serious infringement that constituted an abuse of dominant position.
  • The European Commission’s Statement of Objections alleges a delay in generics competition: The Commission’s preliminary finding regarding Teva Pharmaceuticals suspects that the company shields itself from competition by artificially extending patent protection of its blockbuster medicine, Copaxone, and systematically spreading misleading information about its rival, thereby abusing its dominance through unwarranted patent litigation and a misleading information campaign about a rival multiple sclerosis drug.
  • First Phase II review under the new Peruvian merger regime: Peru’s competition watchdog, Indecopi, examined Pharmaceutica Euroandina’s proposed acquisition of Hersil Pharmaceutical Industrial Laboratories and focused on the markets for urinary antiseptics, nasal sprays and aminoglycosides (for treating serious bacterial infections) as the parties are competing in these markets. After its review, Indecopi decided that the buyer must licence Hersil’s drugs in the relevant markets to a third party for five years and not increase the prices of its competing products for the duration of the licensing.

Amazon facing a GBP 900 million class action

A class action claim in the UK for damages of up to GBP 900 million has been announced, alleging that Amazon abused its dominant position by self-preferencing. The claim focuses on Amazon’s “Buy Box” feature, with the allegation that it “artificially promotes certain items above the rest in response to user searches”. 

No-poaching fine in Poland

Poland’s competition authority has fined the Polish Basketball League and its 16 clubs for violation of competition law in the labour market.

The European Commission approves USD 16 billion acquisition of Swedish Match by Philip Morris International

Philip Morris and Swedish Match are suppliers of tobacco and nicotine products. Swedish Match holds a de facto monopoly on the distribution of tobacco and nicotine products in Sweden through its subsidiary SMD Logistics, while Philip Morris is a leading supplier of combustible tobacco. To address the Commission's concerns that the transaction could lead to foreclosure effects in Sweden, Philip Morris offered to divest Swedish Match's logistics arm, SMD Logistics, to a pre-approved buyer. As the proposed commitment fully removes to vertical links between the parties, the Commission granted its conditional approval.

Competition authorities in Spain and Portugal collaborating

After a meeting to reinforce their strategic cooperation, the Spanish and Portuguese authorities carried out simultaneous on-site inspections in Spain at the premises of a woodchip company. The Portuguese authority announced that “they are investigating possible market-sharing agreements and exchange of sensitive commercial information that could affect both the Portuguese and Spanish markets”.

Sweden’s Competition Authority issues fines for the first time

Sweden’s Konkurrensverket was granted the power to take decisions in March 2021 and this month imposed its first fines in a case concerning bid-rigging in the municipality of Ulricehamn. It was found that the two taxi companies involved in the case coordinated their bids for a tender conducted by the municipality of Ulricehamn to procure mobility transportation services. The Swedish authority imposed fines, albeit relatively low amounts considering that the companies’ financial situations are perilous.

For further information please contact Bulut Girgin, Counsel, at, Simru Tayfun, Associate, at, or Orçun Horozoğlu, Associate, at