August 2020 – In July it appears that Turkish merger control activities left the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic behind. Based on the M&A decisions table, the number of M&A decisions shows a significant increase compared to the previous three months. However, the table shows that the number of M&A decisions remains below the number in 2019.
On 16 July, the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) announced that a sector inquiry  has been initiated regarding e-marketplace platforms, which are among the leading players on the online retail channel. In its announcement the TCA indicated that there are differences between traditional markets and the operation of e-marketplace platforms and their effects. It also highlighted that e-marketplaces are among the leading market players that can determine the competitive structure of the new economy with their business models and market behaviors.
It is understood from the TCA's activities in July that its tendency toward digital markets will continue unabated. It can also be said that the increasing number of M&A cases is a significant signal for the recovering economy after the pandemic.
The latest response from Google
The TCA finalized its Google Shopping Investigation on 14 February 2020  and published its reasoned decision on 27 May 2020  . According to the decision, it concluded that Google abused its dominant position in the general search and online shopping-comparison services markets. In this respect, Google faced an administrative fine of TRL 98.3 million (approximately EUR 13.5 million).
In addition to an administrative fine, the TCA ordered Google to adopt the following measures to abolish the violation of Turkish Competition Law: (i) Google must provide conditions that competing shopping comparison services will not be less advantageous than their respective services on the general search page; (ii) Google must remove the click feature of the Shopping Unit title in other channels; (iii) Google must reasonably remove the uncertainty in relation to the area dedicated to advertisements on the Shopping Unit title and its labeling; and (iv) Google must cease placing priority on its Shopping Unit where competitors provide product name and shopping comparison services on searches through Google.
After this decision, Google provided its response  on 29 July 2020 and decided to remove Shopping Ads from Google's Search pages in Turkey from 10 August 2020. However, Google still wishes to apply its shopping adds in Turkey, as they state in the announcement that, "We hope to be able to resolve these issues in the coming months and reach an agreement with the TCA that would enable us to bring back Shopping ads to Turkey."
As a result, it seems that this harsh and thrilling war between TCA and Google will continue. We are expecting news that could be a landmark for competition law and digital markets.
The TCA approved the following merger control filings in July at the Phase I stage:
- Acquisition of sole control of Çizgi Telekomünikasyon by Combell NV, a subsidiary of team.blue Topco Sarl.
- Acquisition of joint control of Temsa Ulaşım Araçları by Exsa Export Sanayi Mamulleri Satış ve Araştırma A.Ş., a subsidiary of Hacı Ömer Sabancı Holding A.Ş. and PPF Beer Topholdco BV
- Acquisition of a limited number of shares of Erguvan Enerji Elektrik Üretim A.Ş. by Batıyel Enerji Elektrik Üretim A.Ş.
- Acquisition of a certain part of a limited number of shares of Kalyon Türkerler Rüzgar Enerjisi Elektrik Üretim Şirketi that are held by Kalyon Enerji Yatırımları A.Ş. and Türketler İnşaat Turizm Madencilik Enerji Üretim Tic. and San. A.Ş. by Metgün Enerji Yatırımları A.Ş., and another certain part of a limited number of shares by Efa Group Enerji Üretim Danışmanlık San. Tic. A. Ş.
- Acquisition of sole control of Socar Turkey LNG Satış A.Ş. by Naturelgaz Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.
- Establishment of a joint venture that will operate in the petrochemical industry in Turkey and will be ultimately controlled by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic and BP plc
- Acquisition of control of SeQuent Scientific Limited by CA Harbor Investment, a special-purpose company owned and controlled by investment funds driven by subsidiaries of the Carlyle Group Inc.
- Acquisition of the sole control of certain economic units and assets that constitute a certain part of the current business activities owned and controlled by Travelex Limited by some funds controlled by Baring Asset Management Limited.
- Acquisition of joint control of Tilney Group Limited and Smith & Williamson Holdings Limited by funds ultimately under the control of Permira Holdings Limited and Warburg Pincus LLC through a series of interconnected transactions.
- Acquisition of sole control of Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd, Keihin Corporation, Showa Corporation and Nissin Kogyo Co. Ltd by Hitachi, Ltd and Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
- Acquisition of joint control of Doğan Müzik Yapım and Ticaret A.Ş. by Believe Internation Sarl
- Acquisition of Masmovil Ibercom SA by a fund (Seventh Cinven Fund), managed by Cinven Capital Management (VII) General Partner Limited, KKR & Co. Inc. and Providence Equity LLP, to be jointly controlled.
- Acquisition of IONITY Holding GmbH & Co. KG with BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Dr. Ing hc F: Porsche Aktiengesselschaft by Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Corporation.
- Acquisition of sole control of BASF Colors & Effects by DIC Corporation.
- Acquisition of joint control of Azel Springer SE, which is jointly controlled by KKR & Co. Inc. and Axel Springer Gessellschaft für Publizistik GmbH & Co. by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board indirectly.
- Acquisition of sole control of VLD Danışmanlık Tıbbi Ürünler ve Tanıtım Hizmetleri A.Ş. by Aspen Healthcare FZ LLC.
- Acquisition of sole control of VOSS Varinak Onkoloji Sistemleri Satış ve Servis A.Ş. by Varian Medical Systems Inc.
- Acquisition of sole control of Er-Bakır Elektrolitik Bakır Mamulleri A.Ş. and Başak Metal Ticaret ve Sanayi A.Ş. by Ahmet Nuri Erikoğlu Holding A.Ş.
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