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Two-minute Recap of Competition Law Matters Around the Globe - September 2023

Six gatekeepers designated under the DMA

The European Commission (“Commission”) has designated Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft as gatekeepers for the first time under the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”). As such, they must ensure full compliance with the DMA within the next six months.

 

New developments in Super Bock record fine case

The Lisbon Court of Appeal (“Court”) announced its approval of the EUR 24 million fine imposed on the beverage company Super Bock by the Portuguese Competition Authority in 2019. This case involved resale price maintenance (“RPM”) and other commercial conditions.

Prior to this decision, the Court had sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) to determine under which circumstances the RPM would qualify as a “by object” violation. The CJEU ruled that the economic and legal context of the RPM should be evaluated; however, it should be noted that this does not imply an effect-based analysis.

 

Intel is in trouble again

The Commission has fined Intel once again—this time in the amount of EUR 376 million—for a previously established abuse of a dominant position in the market for computer chips known as x86 central processing units (“CPUs”). In 2009, the Commission fined Intel EUR 1.06 billion for unlawfully providing incentives to computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo to buy all or most of their CPUs from the company.

 

ETraveli/Booking transaction blocked in Phase II

The Commission has prohibited Booking Holdings’ proposed EUR 1.63 billion acquisition of ETraveli, a Swedish airline booking company. According to the Commission, the acquisition would have allowed Booking to strengthen its dominant position in the market for online travel agencies specialising in hotel reservations within the European Economic Area.

 

FTC sues Amazon for illegally maintaining its dominant position

The US Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has alleged that Amazon has illegally maintained monopoly power in the online superstore and online marketplace services markets by blocking its competitors and the sellers on its platform from lowering prices, by charging exorbitant fees from sellers, by decreasing quality, by disrupting innovation, and by preventing its competitors from fairly competing with Amazon.

 

Settlement in the Brazilian cartel case

Drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim has settled with Brazil’s competition authority, agreeing to pay a EUR 4.35 million fine to conclude a full-fledged investigation[1] into its role in a nearly 30-year cartel, as well as to assist the authority in the investigation process. The investigation was initiated in 2021 to investigate cartel allegations in the antispasmodic medicine market.

 

Remedy implemented on China’s below-threshold transaction

Simcere Pharmaceutical Group has received conditional approval for its acquisition of Beijing Tobishi Pharmaceutical after voluntarily notifying the Chinese competition authority. This marks the first instance in which the authority has dealt with a below-threshold transaction. After its assessments, the authority required Simcere to terminate its agreement with DSM Pentapharm and to sell all assets related to the development of its Batroxobin injection.

 

Labour market to be monitored during 2026 World Cup

Mexico’s competition authority will monitor anticompetitive practices that could impede fair labour principles in connection with the awarding of contracts for products and services related to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the USA, due to the rise in recruitment activities. Since earlier this year, Mexican authority has been collaborating with the US Department of Justice and Canada’s Competition Bureau on an anti-collusion effort aimed at preventing, identifying, and prosecuting anticompetitive behaviour leading up to and during the World Cup.

 

The revised Microsoft/Activision transaction is close to receiving clearance in the UK

The preliminary green light from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) regarding Microsoft’s EUR 69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has finally arrived. The CMA has provisionally declared that the remedies proposed by Microsoft in relation to the acquisition address its previous concerns, thereby increasing the likelihood of the transaction being approved by the CMA. The CMA also stated that Microsoft’s decision last month to sell cloud-streaming rights for Activision Blizzard games to the video game developer Ubisoft may resolve concerns about the acquisition substantially impeding competition in the cloud-gaming market.

 

For further information please contact Bulut Girgin, Partner, at bgirgin@gentemizerozer.com, Simru Tayfun, Associate, at stayfun@gentemizerozer.com or Orçun Horozoğlu, Associate, at ohorozog@gentemizerozer.com.


[1] The other investigated parties are Alchem International, Alkaloids of Australia, Alkaloids Corporation, Transo-Pharm Handels, Vital Laboratories and Linnea.