European and Swedish Antitrust News (January 11, 2021)

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%.

SCA fines Markslöjd 1.78 MSEK for restricting retailer. Markslöjd AB, a Swedish company providing lighting products, in 2018 demanded one of its retailers, Velltra, to raise end-customer prices on Markslöjd products, or else Markslöjd would stop supplying products to Velltra. The Swedish Competition Authority has now fined Markslöjd for illegal anti-competitive behavior and Markslöjd has accepted the fine.

EU Commission approves PSA-FCA merger subject to conditions. Six months after opening phase-II-investigations of the proposed merger between automotive companies Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”, including brands Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks, etc) and Peugeot S.A. (“PSA”, also including brands Citroën, Opel, Vauxhall, etc), the Commission has approved it subject to conditions. Competitive concerns were identified in the market for small light commercial vehicles as PSA also manufactures vehicles for sale in Europe by Toyota. The entities have committed to a new agreement that ensures production capacity for small light commercial vehicles for Toyota in Europe and furthermore committed to repair network access for competitors.

EU Commission opens phase-II-investigations of Aon – Willis Towers Watson merger. Aon has proposed to acquire Willis Towers Watson, both of which are leading providers of commercial risk brokerage services and in particular re-insurance brokerage services, and both of which are domiciled in Ireland and headquartered in London. The Commission is particularly concerned that they are two of the very few brokers that are able to provide specific services such as in Space and Aerospace manufacturing risks and large-scale services in a number of fields.

A single digital EU banking market could reduce costs considerably. A Copenhagen Economics study of the European banking market, which still is fragmented with domestic banks typically large within each country, estimates that a fully integrated digital banking market could reduce costs of financial services with approximately 12%, about €95 billion per year. Most of that (€50-70 bn) comes from better competition, allowing spread of the most successful business models, while another €30-40 bn comes from increased economies of scale and scope.

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