European and Swedish Antitrust News (July 27, 2020)

Photo: C. A. Tietgen

The General Court of the EU annuls the 2016 Commission decision that Ireland should claw back unpaid taxes from Apple, as the court finds that the Commission had failed to show that Apple had been granted a selective economic advantage. In other news, the EU Commission has fined a cartel of ethylene purchasers, approved the PKN Orlen – Lotos merger subject to a large package of commitments, and is seeking feedback on Aspen’s offer to reduce prices 73% on off-patent cancer medicines.

EU Court annuls 2016 state aid decision against Apple. The EU Commission had decided that Ireland should claw back €13 billion in unpaid taxes plus interest from Apple. But the General Court of the European Union annulled that decision as the court found that the Commission had not shown that Apple had been granted a selective economic advantage and therefore no illegal state aid.

EU Commission fines cartel of ethylene purchasers € 260 M. In a settlement, four companies acknowledged they had colluded to manipulate prices in order to buy ethylene for the lowest possible price. Ethylene is an input used in for example plastics that large buyers purchase under long term supply agreement referencing an industry-wide established “Monthly Contract Price”. Westlake received immunity for revealing the cartel, while the fees for Orbia, Clariant and Celanese were reduced under leniency.

EU Commission approves PKN Orlen – Lotos merger subject to conditions. Following an in-depth investigation of the proposed combination of two Polish integrated oil and gas companies, the Commission has approved the transaction as PKN Orlen has committed to a large package of remedies. The commitments includes divesting most of Lotos’ retail stations in Poland, divestments of some of Lotos’ capacity in refinery, fuel storage and bitumen production, as well as divestment of Lotos’ stake in a jet fuel venture with BP.

Aspen offers EU Commission to reduce prices 73% on off-patent medicines. The Commission opened a formal investigation of Aspen Pharma in 2017 on concerns of excessive pricing of life-saving cancer medicines with expired patent protection. The Commission is now asking for feedback as Aspen has offered to commit to significantly reduced prices on six medicines.

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