What does ICAP’s successful appeal mean for competition law fines going forward?

ICAP’s successful appeal against the EU Commission’s €14.96 million fine for facilitating banks in influencing the LIBOR/TIBOR rates is hugely significant and signals a significant set back for the EU competition authority. The case was complicated and unusual from the start, the European Court of Justice clarified the level of detail required in a decision when issuing a fine for a breach of competition law. Nonetheless, the ICAP saga has serious consequences for companies acting in a facilitator capacity, although interdealer brokers may find some protection from the phase-out of LIBOR to SONIA. Read our alert for a review of this recent decision and the consequences of competition law fines on companies that do not directly take part in cartels but merely facilitate them.

Our Paris EU, Competition and Regulatory team coaches clients on how to prepare and react to investigations from competition and regulatory authorities

On 19 June 2019, our Paris office organized a client seminar on the topic: “Insight into competition and regulatory authorities’ investigations in France”.

Our Paris competition partners Natasha Tardif and Marc Lévy spoke alongside in-house counsel Amandine Jacquemot, senior legal advisor at EDF, before a fully packed room composed of Paris contacts and clients. Natasha and Marc discussed strategies and measures to adopt when facing requests for information, dawn raids and investigations led by competition authorities.

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What does the Competition and Markets Authority’s decision to impose a 10-year ban on the Sainsbury’s/Asda merger suggest for the future of UK competition law?

The recently proposed Sainsbury’s/Asda merger would have combined the second- and third-largest UK supermarkets. The merger would also have created the largest retailer of fuel by volume in the UK. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided to step in and concluded that the prohibition of the merger was the only way to go. Most importantly, however, is the 10-year ban imposed by the CMA on the parties’ attempting a similar deal in the future. Read our alert where we review the CMA’s decision and its powers, and consider the future for UK competition law.

Merger control and minority investments

A commonly held view is that merger control filings are not relevant for minority investments.

On Friday, 5 July 2019, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had issued an order to hold separate to Amazon.com Inc and Roofoods Ltd (trading as Deliveroo). We understand that Amazon had made an investment for a minority of shares in Roofoods (though the exact size of Amazon’s stake has not been revealed).

The UK has a voluntary merger control regime. This means that even where a merger meets the notification threshold, there is no obligation to notify the CMA. However, the CMA has a market intelligence function and can investigate mergers of its own accord up to four months after a deal has come into the public domain. If a merger has already been completed when the CMA investigates, it is usual practice for the CMA to issue an order to hold separate while its investigation is carried out. This means that parties cannot integrate in any way (nor usually act outside the ordinary course of business) without the CMA’s permission (known as a derogation).

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Changes in California could see significant impact on the price of prescription drugs

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an Executive Order to allow state agencies to join together and negotiate the purchase of prescription drugs. This measure could significantly reduce the cost of drugs and therefore will most certainly impact pharmaceutical manufacturers, managed care companies, pharmacies and other industry participants, as well as prescription drug consumers. For a summary of this Executive Order and our thoughts on the impact, read our client alert.

Foreign investment control extends in Germany

The German government’s decision to tighten regulation around foreign investment control in Germany means that acquisitions by foreign companies are facing much greater scrutiny. The government’s amendments to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung) means that the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will be able to inspect, and potentially prohibit, an acquisition of a shareholding of at least 25 percent in a German company by a non-EU investor if they deem the acquisition as a danger to Germany’s public order or security. Make sure to read our client alert for a summary of the updated policy and a list of the key points to consider.

German FCO limits Facebook’s scope for collecting and combining data

Facebook has a unique positioning in the digital market, which is based entirely on the collecting of user data. Currently, users have only one option: accepting the terms and conditions imposed by Facebook or being excluded from the social network entirely. After almost three years of investigation, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) found that the social network’s practices violate competition law and data protection principles. Specifically, the FCO held that Facebook abused its dominant market position by collecting and combining vast amounts of user data on the German market without giving its users the possibility to object. Our team goes into depth about what you need to know about the findings of the Facebook decision in our client alert.

Will President Trump’s new AG mean change for antitrust enforcement?

Antitrust enforcement may be becoming an increasingly politicized issue, however, most policies are fairly consistent from administration to administration and, consequently, from one Attorney General to the next. Replacing Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, William P. Barr was recently appointed by the Senate to serve as Attorney General. Having previously served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, and given that during his tenure, the Department of Justice (DOJ) implemented several important antitrust policy initiatives, there are a few particular areas of enforcement in which there are opportunities for Barr to guide antitrust policy. Given his prior stint as Attorney General and his professional experiences since, we outline below the potential impact on antitrust enforcement and policies that Barr may introduce as Attorney General. Members of our antitrust team explain what that means for antitrust practice in our client alert.

FTC announces adjustments to 2019 HSR thresholds

On February 15, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the annual threshold adjustments for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (15 U.S.C. § 18a) (HSR). The new thresholds have increased the dollar amount required to trigger HSR notification for both the size-of-transaction test and the size-of-person test. Members of our Antitrust & Competition Team describe the implications in our recent alert.

EU implements new regulation of trading practices; boosts transparency and fairness

By way of an EU regulation adopted by the Council and European Parliament, the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of the European Union reached an agreement on February 14, 2019 to implement new rules designed to ensure a fair, transparent and predictable business environment to both end consumers and entrepreneurs using third party online platforms for their business. An example of this includes hotels that offer rooms through booking platforms or app developers who distribute their software through app stores. In our client alert, our team summarizes the rules under the new regulation.

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