European and Swedish Antitrust News (August 24, 2020)

Logo: Nets A/S

The EU Commission has approved Mastercard’s acquisition of Nets’ account-to-account core infrastructure services after Mastercard committed to license the payment solution technology to a third party. In other news, the EU Commission has launched an in-depth investigation of if Poland’s state aid to LG Chem meets criteria in the regional aid guidelines. Copenhagen Economics has published a report suggesting more sector-specific regulation of postal services isn’t needed. The Swedish Competition Authority has decided to not investigate two companies allegedly abusing dominant positions.

EU Commission approves Mastercard-Nets merger subject to conditions. Global payment solutions provider Mastercard is acquiring the account-to-account core infrastructure services business unit of Danish digital payment provider Nets. Nets have a strong position in the Nordics raising concerns for competition in that region. However, the Commission’s in-depth investigation found that the A2A CIS business is expected to face new competition from emerging technologies and Mastercard has committed to license the acquired technology to another party.

EU Commission investigating Polish state aid to LG Chem. Korean company LG Chem is a major global producer of Li-Ion cells for EV-batteries and is investing more than €1 billion in expanding a factory in Poland. Poland has granted the project €95 million in state aid under the EU regulation exceptions for aid allowed to develop disadvantaged regions, but the Commission has now launched an in-depth investigation, doubting that the aid meets the criteria to allow such state aid.

CE study finds no need for more sector-specific regulation of postal services. In light of the EU Commission’s ongoing evaluation of the Postal Services Directive, Copenhagen Economics has published a commissioned study of if more sector-specific regulation is needed. The report argues that competition is increasing and that most businesses in the EU can choose from at least ten parcel delivery services, and therefore policymakers should consider carefully what market failures the regulation aims to address in order to avoid overlaps and conflicts with other regulatory frameworks that could hamper the sector.

SCA decides to not investigate Foodora. The Swedish market for online food ordering is dominated by international players Foodora and Uber Eats. Local upstart doesn’t deliver food itself but has a service through which consumers can order food from participating restaurants. Hotmat filed a complaint with the Swedish Competition Authority claiming that Foodora abuses its dominant position by threatening to cancel services to restaurants also signing up for Hotmat’s service. However, the SCA has decided to not further investigate the case due to priority reasons.

SCA decides to not investigate Gar-Bo. Insurance company Gar-Bo is the leading provider of bid guarantees for new housing construction in Sweden. According to a complaint filed with the Swedish Competition Authority, the company abuses its dominant position on the market for bid guarantees to also sign exclusive agreements for provision of house inspection services. However, the SCA has decided to not further investigate the case due to priority reasons.

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