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

Altice's breach of EU standstill rules upheld

The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) upheld the European Commission's (“EC”) sanction against Altice for violating both EU standstill rules and failing to notify its acquisition of PT Portugal, a telecommunications and multimedia operator. The ECJ questioned identical penalty amounts for varying breach durations but affirmed that the notification and suspension of the closing requirements are indeed separate obligations.

EC expands antitrust probe raiding Glovo and Delivery Hero offices

The EC expanded its antitrust probe into online food delivery services, conducting surprise raids on Glovo and Delivery Hero offices in Berlin and Barcelona following the earlier raids conducted in 2022. The investigation, initially focused on market allocation, now includes potential no-poach agreements and illegal information exchanges.

Antitrust charges hit French tech and engineering firms

France's competition authority charged engineering, technology consulting, and IT services firms with implementing no-poach agreements, accusing them of agreeing not to hire each other's staff. The move aligns with the authority's ongoing scrutiny of labour market cases, following fines in January for similar practices and previous penalties in 2017 for a flooring cartel involving no-poach agreements.

Deutsche Bank gains immunity in cartel probe

Deutsche Bank has avoided a EUR 156 million fine in an EC bonds trading cartel probe, gaining immunity for proactive cooperation as the whistle-blower. Meanwhile, Rabobank sentenced to pay a EUR 26.6 million penalty for traders exchanging sensitive information and coordinating prices of euro-denominated bonds between 2006 and 2016. The collusion occurred through messaging, chatrooms, and Bloomberg e-mails.

EC backs FIFA’s new regulation on agent’s fees

The Commercial Court of Madrid has issued an interim injunction against the implementation of FIFA's new regulations on the limitation of agents' fees for player transfers, the FIFA Football Agent Regulations, on the grounds that they may infringe EU competition law. The court, responding to a lawsuit filed by the Spanish Association of Football Agents, ordered FIFA to maintain the status quo during the proceedings. While the EC has sided with FIFA stating that the new regulation complies with EU competition law, a German court has referred the matter to the ECJ for clarification on potential antitrust violations and a district court in the Netherlands dismissed a request from agents to issue an injunction.

Meta and TikTok appeal the “gatekeeper” designation

Meta and TikTok have appealed their “gatekeeper” designations under the EU's Digital Markets Act. TikTok disputes its market position and turnover thresholds, citing intense competition while, on the other hand, Meta challenges the “core” status of its Messenger and Marketplace, asserting Marketplace is consumer-to-consumer, and Messenger is part of Facebook. The companies aim for clarification on the core function analysis given that similar services offered by other gatekeepers are designated differently.

KFTC proposes updates to merger guidelines focused on digital economy

Korea's Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) proposes updates to its merger guidelines targeting the digital economy. The amendments broaden market definitions, incorporate network effects, assess pro-competitive efficiencies, and expand the scope of reviewable digital transactions. Notably, the agency removes the fifteen-day review procedure for online platforms acquiring businesses with over five million users or exceeding EUR 21.1 million in R&D spending, aiming to prevent digital monopoly strengthening. The KFTC emphasizes assessing market definition based on non-price effects and considering separate segments for diverse platform services. The guidelines prioritize data analysis's role in enhancing network effects and innovation competition.

AkzoNobel’s remedy package rejected by the South African tribunal

The South African Competition Tribunal has dismissed AkzoNobel's proposed remedies, including the sale of a Kansai "sub-brand" and the supply of colorants to competitors, as insufficient to address competition concerns in its acquisition of Kansai Paint's African business. The deal was initially blocked by the authority over concerns that it would restrict access to key paint ingredients. The merger has been reviewed by various African competition authorities, with partial approvals and prohibitions in different regions.

Acquisition of a defunct steel plant is approved in Botswana

Botswana's competition authority has reviewed and conditionally approved Indian steelmaker Sherashiya's acquisition of a defunct steel plant from Pula Steel, although no increase in market share is expected. Sherashiya, with no existing business operations in Botswana, pledged not to enter exclusive agreements with scrap metal suppliers to prevent harm to competitors. Sherashiya must submit annual reports demonstrating compliance and contribution to small businesses for three years post-deal closure.

 

 

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