European and Swedish Antitrust News (May 11, 2020)

Photo: Michael Oldfield

Ryanair has challenged the Swedish COVID-19-related State-Aid to airline SAS by suing the EU Commission at the Court of Justice of the European Union for its decision to approve a package of loan guarantees. In other news, the EU Commission has approved the Aurubis-Metallo merger, is asking for feedback on antitrust commitments by Broadcom, and is looking to take equity stakes in systemic companies. The Swedish Competition Authority argues no internal organization changes are necessary for it to be empowered to fine undertakings which break competition law.

Ryanair challenges Swedish COVID-19-related State-Aid to SAS. Ryanair has sued the EU Commission at the Court of Justice of the European Union to cancel the Swedish package of loan guarantees for airlines (totaling approx. EUR 455 million) which the EU Commission previously approved. The case is number T-238/20 – Ryanair / Commission, but the court has not made information disponible yet. Ryanair has also vowed to challenge state-aid packages for a number of other European airlines.

Swedish Competition Agency finds no need for organizational changes ahead of empowerment. The SCA was in 2018 empowered to prohibit a concentration, instead of previously having had to sue the entity in a court. Following Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament to empower the competition authorities, the Swedish Government gave the SCA an objective to investigate if the SCA would first need internal organizational changes before also being empowered to fine undertakings which break competition law. The SCA has now filed its report, arguing that no such changes are necessary.

EU Commission approves Aurubis’ acquisition of Metallo. The Commission had launched a phase-II-investigation as the merger would bring together the two largest purchasers and refiners of copper scrap in Europe. However, the Commission found that their combined market share was still moderate and there are many alternative purchasers of copper scrap inside and outside the EEA, and the Commission also concluded that Aurubis and Metallo had largely complementary purchasing focuses and were not close competitors.

EU might take equity stakes in systemic companies. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has said that the EU is looking to set up a fund linked to the EU’s next seven-year budget which would acquire equity stakes to bolster systemic companies in poorer EU member countries that do not have the same possibilities as for example France and Germany to support national champions in the COVID-19 crisis.

EU Commission seeks feedback on antitrust commitments offered by Broadcom. Last year, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections against Broadcom’s exclusivity provisions in contracts with major customers, thereby excluding competitors from the markets for Systems-on-a-Chip (“SoCs”) for TV-boxes and modems. Broadcom has now offered commitments to not require any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to obtain more than 50% of its SoCs from Broadcom.

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