European and Swedish Antitrust News (December 16, 2021)
The UK CMA has ordered Facebook to sell Giphy as the acquisition completed in May 2020 would have substantial horizontal effects in display advertising and vertical effects in supply of social media services. In other news, the EU Commission has fined Conserve Italia for a cartel and opened a phase-II-investigation of the Recticel-Greiner merger,Advocate General Rantos has set criteria for if an exclusionary practice is abuse, and the SCA has been advised to seek preliminary rulings from ECJ.
The Swedish Competition Authority has approved the horizontal merger of Finnish Altia and Norwegian Arcus,both of which are major alcoholic beverage brand producers and distributors in the Nordics, after the companies committed to divest four famous brands. In other news, the EU Commission has fined three railway companies for a cartel, launched an investigation of possible anti-competitive conduct by Teva and has approved the Danfoss – Eaton Hydraulics merger subject to conditions, while the SCA has ended its investigation of insurance companies.
The EU Commission has cleared the vertical merger of Siemens Healthineers and Varian, on the condition that their solutions for radiotherapy and medical imaging used to plan and deliver radiotherapy continue to usethe de facto industry-wide interoperability standard (DICOM) to ensure continued interoperability with rival solutions within the two fields. In other news, the SCA has concluded that new rules are required to deal with competition issues with digital platforms in Sweden, an administrative court has fined Malmö municipality for an illegal direct procurement, and Ryanair lost its challenge against State-Aid for Swedish airlines.
The EU Commission has opened a formal investigation of Mondelēz for possibly imposing illegal trade restrictions on chocolate, biscuits and coffee products between EU member states. In other news, the EU Commission has approved the LSEG-Refinitiv merger subject to conditions, the SCA has sued Västerås municipality for a direct procurement, the SCA has dropped its investigation of Impecta as the company withdrew its vertical restraints, and the SCA has published an evaluation of public procurement statistics in Sweden.
The Swedish Competition Authority has fined a lighting products brand for anti-competitive vertical restraints as it tried to control the pricing of a retailer’s online distribution. In other news, the EU Commission has approved the automobile PSA-FCA merger subject to conditions to ensure continued competition in the small light commercial vehicles market, while opening an in-depth-investigation of the proposed merger between major insurance brokerage services providers Aon and Willis Towers Watson. A study estimates that a single digital EU banking market would reduce financial services costs with 12%.
The EU Commission has proposed new Digital Services andDigital Markets Acts which, if approved, will set rules about illegal content and advertising transparency and will provide strong tools against unfair business practices. In other news, the EU Commission has approved Google’s acquisition of Fitbit subject to conditions. In Sweden, the Competition Authority has sued dairy producer Arla for an information exchange, sued Malmö municipality for a direct procurement, and initiated a phase-II-investigation of the Altia-Arcus merger, while the court has ordered Hässleholm municipality to stop its anti-competitive behavior.
The EU Commission as fined Teva and Cephalon for an agreement to delay a generic drug. Cephalon has since been acquired by Teva in 2011, but long before that Teva delayed a generic version of Cephalon’s bestselling drug Modafinil for which European patents expired in 2005. In other news, the Court of Justice has ruled that Star Taxi App provides an information society service. The EU Commission has approved the SRF-Covage acquisition, has published a report on the implementation of the Damages Directive and has notified Sweden that the Transport Agency’s definition of “closest suitable railway station” is not in line with an EU Directive.
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has halted the auction of 5G licenses at the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz band pending a decision from theAdministrative Court of Appeal on whether PTS is allowed to exclude bids including equipment from Huawei and ZTE. In other news, the EU Commission has stepped up action against Amazon with a Statement of Objections and the opening of a second formal investigation. The Swedish Competition Authority is about to be granted enhanced powers, but the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises wants further legal changes to combat anti-competitive sales activities by public entities.
The EU Commission has sent a Statement of Objections for alleged predatory pricing by České dráhy (ČD), the state-owned Czech rail incumbent, which appears to have set prices below costs to drive out two competitors on the Prague – Ostrava route. In other news, the Swedish Competition Authority has no objections to the Swedish Transport Administration’s plan to start doing some railroad maintenance in-house, but warns that the administration must consider what dynamic effects that will have on competition. The SCA has also published a study on competition in public procurement, and the EU Commission has accepted the improved commitments from Broadcom.
The SCA has approved Orifarm’sacquisition of some assets from Takeda, despite some very high resulting combined market shares in OTC and prescription pharmaceutical products sold in Sweden, as price caps and new entries through imports are assumed to prevent increasing prices. In other news, the Nordic competition authorities have published a joint memorandum on digital platforms, Sweden has asked for a European preliminary ruling on a public procurement case, and the EU Commission has approved the Worldline-Ingencio merger while opening an in-depth investigation of the Danfoss – Eaton Hydraulics merger.