European and Swedish Antitrust News (April 14, 2020)

LSG food delivery (Renata3)

The EU Commission has approved Gategroup’s acquisition of the European business of Lufthansa Service Group subject to commitments to divest overlapping in-flight catering services. In other news, the SCA has decided to not investigate Tesla’s exclusive after-market services and PTS has suggested that municipality-owned entities should be allowed to provide broadband services in nearby areas. The Commission and the SCA have published further guidelines on issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

EU Commission approves Gategroup’s acquisition of ‘LSG EU’ subject to conditions. Gategroup, a Swiss company providing in-flight catering services globally (provision and delivery of food and beverage solutions to airlines), has purchased the European business of Lufthansa Service Group (‘LSG EU’) subject to conditions. ‘LSG EU’ provides a wider set of catering businesses for airlines and trains, including lounge management and food production. The Commission found that the proposed transaction would leave only one remaining viable competitor for in-flight catering services at a number of German airports as well as at Brussels, Paris and Rome and Gategroup has therefore committed to divest overlapping businesses.

SCA decides to not investigate Tesla’s exclusive after-market services. The Swedish vehicle repair industry association had reported Northern EMEA (Tesla) for illegal vertical agreements restricting competitors from offering after-market services for Tesla cars. The Swedish Competition Authority has now decided to not further investigate the case due to priority reasons as Tesla make up such a small part of the current car stock in Sweden.

PTS suggests exemptions from local boundaries for activities by public entities. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has presented a new report to the government, suggesting alternatives for how to allow municipality-owned entities to expand their broadband fiber network offerings to areas in nearby municipalities where the local municipality can’t provide an offer at reasonable cost.

EU Commission publishes temporary framework and issues “comfort letter” for cooperation. The temporary framework provides guidance on assessing antitrust issues related to business cooperation aimed at addressing shortage of essential products and services during the COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, a “comfort letter” has been issued for a specific cooperation project among pharmaceutical producers that targets the risk of shortage of critical hospital medicines for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Swedish Competition Authority publishes updated COVID-19 guidelines. Following statements from the EU Commission and the European Competition Network (ECN), the SCA has updated its Swedish guidelines for businesses and public procurement during the COVID-19 outbreak, stating that the authority will prioritize action against any firm abusing a dominant position and stressing that public procurement through ‘negotiated procedure without publication’ only is allowed in cases of extreme urgency.

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