Readers are invited to vote for the cases, law firms, lawyers, economists and enforcers they believe excelled in 2016.
You can vote for the this year’s GCR awards nominees here until midnight EST on Friday 24 February. Ballots are limited to one per person.
The winners will be announced at the GCR 7th Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 28 March in Washington, DC. At the dinner, we also will recognise our 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honourees. Click here for more information on the awards dinner.
If you did not nominate a matter on which you worked that appears in the list below, please email GCRAwards@globalcompetitionreview.com to ensure that we have your information.
Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations. The nominees are:
Merger control matter of the year – Americas: Creative, strategic and innovative competition work for a client on a landmark merger control matter in the Americas.
The $39 billion sale of Allergan’s global generic pharmaceuticals business to Teva was the largest generic drug merger of all time, tying up the first- and third-largest generic pharmaceutical producers in the world. The US Federal Trade Commission looked beyond individual product overlaps to determine if the merger would lower incentives to develop or bring new generic drugs to market, and whether product bundling would have anticompetitive effects. The agency conditioned approval on Teva’s divestiture of 79 products post-merger.
Charter Communications/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks
Charter Communications’ $78 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and its related $10.4 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks from Advance/Newhouse created the second-largest TV and internet provider in the US. The US Department of Justice allowed the deal conditioned on a behavioural remedy that banned the merged company from agreements that could make it more difficult for online video distributors to obtain video content from programmers.
Abbott Laboratories/St Jude Medical
Abbott Laboratories’ $26 billion acquisition of St Jude Medical secured approval in 11 jurisdictions. The US FTC issued a second request, and along with Canada’s Competition Bureau conditioned approval on limited divestitures of two products. The companies were able to close the complex deal in just over eight months, thanks to a highly coordinated global strategy to provide competition authorities with the information that they needed for their analysis quickly, and proactively responding to concerns with a robust remedy.
Cabell Huntington Hospital/St Mary’s Medical Center
The only two health systems based in Huntington, West Virginia, fended off a US FTC lawsuit to block their deal by obtaining West Virginia legislation that immunised such provider consolidations from federal antitrust review. After the state attorney general approved the merger in July 2016, the FTC dropped its lawsuit. Of a trio of FTC challenges to hospital mergers in late 2015, this is the sole deal that was not stopped by a federal appellate court in 2016.
Air Liquide’s $13.4 billion acquisition of Airgas secured US FTC clearance in less than six months after announcement of the deal, which created the world’s largest supplier of industrial gases, despite involving a second request and substantial overlaps in multiple markets, as well as a consent decree.
The $29 billion merger of Dutch retailer Ahold and Delhaize of Belgium created a supermarket powerhouse in the US, with hundreds of Delhaize’s Food Lion and Hannaford stores in close proximity to Ahold’s Stop & Shop and Giant stores. The first major supermarket deal examined by the FTC after Albertsons/Safeway divestiture buyer Haggen went bankrupt, it required the divestiture of 86 stores to seven buyers, and allows 12-24 months post-closing for extensive store remodelling. A parallel agreement was reached with several state attorneys general. The merger was completed days before a deadline imposed by Dutch securities law.
Merger control matter of the year – Europe: Creative, strategic and innovative competition work for a client on a landmark merger control matter in Europe.
Both companies are leading global providers of products and services for the railway industry. The transaction, announced in July 2015, received a US DOJ second request, and the European Commisison’s Directorate-General for Competition launched a Phase II investigation, stating its concern that the merger could harm competition in certain railway equipment systems. The EU enforcer ultimately cleared the deal subject to the divestment of Faiveley’s train brakes material business; the DOJ granted clearance, conditioned on Faiveley selling its US freight car brakes business.
Airbus Safran Launchers/Arianespace
In July 2016, Airbus Safran Launchers, a joint venture between Airbus and rocket-motor manufacturer Safran, won EU antitrust approval for its acquisition of Arianespace, Europe’s space launch services provider. The deal attracted a lot of political attention, in both Europe and the US, and faced a large number of complaints from space industry players, including Airbus's main competitors in the related satellite market. In February 2016, the European Commission decided to open a Phase II investigation; DG Comp was concerned that Airbus would foreclose competing satellite manufacturers by restricting access to Arianespace’s space services. The commission ultimately withdrew most of its initial concerns and approved the merger, subject to limited behavioural commitments preventing problematic information flows.
The deal required merger clearances in the UK, US, Australia and Singapore. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority analysed 20 overlaps in detail but identified a substantial lessening of competition in only one, as a result of the substantial advocacy and economic evidence presented. The CMA ultimately cleared the 4-3 merger at Phase I, conditioned on the sale of ICAP’s London-based oil desks responsible for servicing customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to an upfront buyer.
The European Commission conditionally cleared Microsoft’s proposed $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn after a detailed Phase I review. The largest deal in Microsoft’s history raised a number of cutting-edge issues regarding access to data and platforms. Vocal competitors demanded access to LinkedIn’s data, arguing that it was key to competition in next-generation products, and said that Microsoft could harm rival professional social networks by integrating and distributing LinkedIn. However, the commission concluded after a deep dive into the facts that this was not a “big data” merger, and that LinkedIn’s data was neither a unique nor a “must-have” input. Microsoft promised not to discriminate against competing professional social networks when enabling third parties to integrate with Office, and to allow the removal of a future LinkedIn application from Windows.
Merger control matter of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa: Creative, strategic and innovative competition work for a client on a landmark merger matter in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa.
Announced in November 2015 and completed in September 2016, Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood created the largest hotel company in the world. China’s Ministry of Commerce pushed its investigation to Phase III. Despite extensive overlaps, the high-profile nature of the tie-up, and a thorough review from numerous competition enforcement agencies, the companies received unconditional merger clearance around the world – including from Mofcom – allowing the deal to be completed within ten months of its initial announcement without any divestitures or remedies.
Casino sale of Big C Vietnam to Central Group
Casino faced a tricky merger review during the €1 billion sale of its food retail subsidiary in Vietnam. In the absence of any decisional practice from the Vietnamese competition enforcer, the company had to determine how the relevant markets should be defined and the market shares calculated. The merger control issue was of particular importance for Casino as the seller is a co-notifying party under Vietnamese law, and the companies’ agenda was not compatible with a previous notification to the Vietnamese competition authority.
CMA CGM/Neptune Orient Lines
CMA CGM’s $2.4 billion acquisition of NOL marked the first major proposed acquisition in the container shipping industry by one of the three major containerised liner shipping companies since Mofcom’s decision to block the proposed P3 shipping alliance in 2014. The CMA CGM deal faced a host of challenges, including both companies being major players in the container shipping industry; a Mofcom filing being made very shortly after the deal was announced, when the agency was reviewing other large shipping deals; and the fact that both companies are members of different shipping alliances, operating on several overlapping routes. Nonetheless, Mofcom fully cleared the deal.
Sea Swift/Toll Marine Logistics
Sea Swift’s proposed acquisition of Toll Marine Logistics’ business in Australia’s Northern Territory and Far North Queensland involved an unusually long review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The enforcer claimed the deal would be a merger to monopoly, but Australia’s Competition Tribunal ultimately authorised the merger after a two-week hearing, which involved evidence from more than seven expert and 40 lay witnesses. The tribunal’s clearance is one of only two applications over the last decade to have resulted in authorisation.
Litigation of the year – Cartel defence: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a private action for cartel damages.
iiyama’s LCD and CRT UK follow-on claims
The defendants prevailed against monitor maker iiyama in jurisdictional arguments on the territorial scope of EU competition law. In two separate hearings, the High Court in London twice ruled that restrictions on the territorial scope of article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union apply in private actions for damages, and that Asian purchases in these cases fell outside the article’s scope. The cases address key questions on the ability to recover extra-European and potentially global damages in Europe based on EU cartel decisions, with precedent-setting value well beyond the particular matter at hand. The principles covered are important consideration for claimants and defendants alike in complex international infringements.
CertainTeed in Domestic Drywall
CertainTeed was the only defendant to win summary judgment in the Domestic Drywall multi-district litigation, which alleges that building material companies fixed prices. In February 2016, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment to CertainTeed Gypsum, but denied the other defendants’ summary judgment motions. In granting summary judgment for CertainTeed, the court highlighted the unique extensive facts brought forward by CertainTeed: “approximately 90 declarations from CertainTeed leadership, employees, and customers”.
Auto parts settlements for Denso and Sumitomo
The auto parts follow-on damages litigation related to price-fixing claims include up to five putative classes: all direct purchasers of auto parts, auto dealers, truck and equipment dealers, end payors, and public entities over a more than 15-year period. Denso, named in 23 sets of cases, obtained dismissal of the public entities’ claims, narrowed others and developed a strong defence to class certification. It reached a favourable settlement on all remaining claims by auto dealers, truck and equipment dealers, and end payors in July 2016, leaving only direct purchasers. Together with Denso, amnesty applicant Sumitomo Electric Industries in the actions for wire harnesses and heater control panels successfully opposed the indirect purchaser plaintiffs’ attempt to amend their complaints to allege a single conspiracy involving all 19 products. Sumitomo ultimately negotiated favourable settlements – half of the amounts paid by other similarly situated defendants – to dispose of all remaining class action cases.
Litigation of the year – Non-cartel defence: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a non-cartel private action.
MasterCard interchange fee damages claims
MasterCard defended itself in the UK against two substantial stand-alone damages claims by some of Europe’s largest retailers, who alleged that the multilateral interchange fees it charged for debit and credit card transactions were anticompetitive. While the Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled in favour of supermarket Sainsbury’s in 2016, the High Court rejected the majority of claims by 10 other retailers in 2017.
SawStop v Black & Decker et al
SawStop, the inventor of a technology that stops table-saw blades on contact with skin, sued Stanley, Black & Decker, Ryobi, Makita, Bosch and others, claiming that they boycotted the company’s technology. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the complaint in October 2016 as time-barred, after having previously reinstated it when the appellate court had ordered it to do so. The litigation raised the issue of whether, in evaluating whether the complaint would survive a motion to dismiss, the standard is the law currently in effect, or the law that would have been in effect within four years of discovery of the alleged conspiracy.
In January 2016, the European Court of Justice dismissed the last of Odile Jacob’s appeals in relation to Lagardère’s €1.2 billion acquisition of the book publishing business of Vivendi Universal Publishing. DG Comp had authorised the acquisition in 2004, subject to certain divestments. Odile Jacob, a competitor interested in acquiring the divested assets, filed numerous appeals before the EU courts. The litigation gave rise to eight different judgments by the EU’s General Court and the European Court of Justice over 12 years. The courts ultimately backed DG Comp’s handling of the merger.
Dismissal of a Puerto Rico monopolisation case against Liberty Global
Liberty Global of Puerto Rico faced an antitrust lawsuit alleging monopolisation in the video entertainment business in Puerto Rico. The case raised issues relating to the application of the sham exception to the Noerr-Pennington doctrine in the context of a video franchise application filed by an erstwhile competitor before Puerto Rico’s Telecommunications Regulatory Board. Summary judgment was awarded in Liberty Global’s favour in July 2016.
Litigation of the year – Cartel prosecution: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of plaintiffs in a private action for cartel damages.
German sugar cartel claims
Chocolate maker Nestlé remains the lead party in what has become the largest-ever follow-on damages case from a German Federal Cartel Office decision. Nestlé sued three German sugar makers over their alleged market sharing agreement, and more than 30 other plaintiffs have joined the scrum, with collective damage claims adding up to more than €1 billion. In December, the case survived a motion arguing that the company's claims were inadmissible.
Teladoc v Texas Medical Board
Telemedicine platform Teladoc and its lawyers spent much of 2016 arguing that the Texas Medical Board, which it sued under the antitrust laws, should not be granted immunity from prosecution under the state action doctrine. The board claimed that because it was a quasi-governmental body, it should be shielded from antitrust scrutiny, but a lower court denied that claim and let Teladoc press on with its lawsuit. The board appealed, but after a dozen amicus briefs supporting Teladoc landed with the appeals court, the board dropped its challenge. It was a clear win for Teladoc and the most important ruling about state action immunity since the Supreme Court's North Carolina Dental ruling in 2015.
Air cargo US litigation
The US share of the global air cargo cartel saga drew to a close in 2016, after the final airline defendants reached settlement agreements with plaintiffs on the eve of trial. The class action, which began in 2006, has now resulted in more than $1.2 billion in settlements for companies that bought air freight services from the airlines – a group of defendants that included almost every major air cargo carrier in the world. The final settlements came after a federal judge denied the airlines' motions for summary judgment, paving the way for trial.
Credit default swaps US litigation
In April 2016, New York federal judge Denise Cote approved a $1.86 billion settlement in the credit default swaps rate fixing class action. The case, which included claims against a dozen major Wall Street banks, resulted in the enormous settlement despite no government charges or penalties against the banks. The result led two judges associated with the case, including Judge Cote, to praise class counsel for their effective and efficient lawyering.
Litigation of the year – Non-cartel prosecution: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of plaintiffs in a non-cartel private action.
Dial v News Corp
In February 2016, News Corporation agreed to pay $244 million to end federal monopolisation claims against it, and agreed to change its business practices in relation to in-store advertising. It was a rare case of pure private enforcement of US federal antitrust laws, as there was no corresponding investigation by federal or state antitrust enforcers. The settlement ended three years of litigation.
Nationwide v South African Airways
Nationwide Airlines’ pursuit of South African Airways resulted in South Africa’s first-ever court-awarded damages for a breach of competition law, following on from the country’s competition enforcer finding in 2005 that South African Airways had abused its dominant position by using exclusionary loyalty rebates in incentive agreements with travel agents. The South Gauteng High Court ordered the airline to pay 104.6 million rand (€7.3 million) in damages.
Kobo Canada e-books settlement challenge
Kobo fighting e-book publishers’ 2014 settlement with Canada’s competition watchdog was notable not just because it resulted in the first-ever successful challenge to the enforcer’s settlement powers, but also because the Competition Tribunal’s final judgment delineates what minimum standards must be met for consent agreements to withstand challenges.
Thomson Reuters' successful intervention in Morningstar v Commission
Morningstar appealed against DG Comp’s 2012 decision to accept commitments from Thomson Reuters that resolved an investigation into allegedly anticompetitive contractual provisions. Morningstar’s challenge before the General Court was the second-ever challenge to a DG Comp commitments decision to have made it to the European courts. As the intervener in the case, Thomson Reuters was required to make innovative and novel arguments regarding the scope of the legislation underpinning commitments decisions, as well as explaining key aspects of the Commission's three year-long investigation. The General Court’s judgment affirmed the Commission's wide discretion regarding the acceptance or rejection of commitments.
Behavioural matter of the year – Americas: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in the Americas.
Trial victory for NASDAQ OMX and NYSE Arca at the US Securities and Exchange Commission
The case originated nearly a decade ago and ended in June 2016. NASDAQ OMX and NYSE Arca assembled a team of antitrust litigators and economists in an unusual venue – a one-week trial before the chief administrative law judge of the SEC – where the team defeated a group of purchasers of market data who argued that the SEC should regulate prices set by NASDAQ, NYSE and other exchanges. In 2014, the SEC ordered a trial before the administrative judge to resolve the question framed by an appellate court: whether NASDAQ and the NYSE are subject to “significant competitive forces” that constrain their pricing for market data products. The judge roundly rejected the challenges to the pricing of NASDAQ and NYSE’s proprietary market data products, ruling that the exchanges had shown that their pricing is in fact constrained by competitive forces.
Andrade Gutierrez Lavo Jato leniency and settlements
Construction company Andrade Gutierrez, facing Brazilian investigations as part of the sprawling Operation Car Wash probes, signed three leniency agreements and two settlement agreements with Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence. The outcome was unprecedented in CADE’s history. For the first time, a single company negotiated five agreements with CADE simultaneously, in connection with Brazil’s remarkable raft of corporate investigations.
Canadian investigation into TMX Group
Canada’s Competition Bureau called off its abuse of dominance investigation of TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, in late 2016. The enforcer had examined allegations that the company’s contracts with dealers banned them from sharing private market data, stemming from a complaint from data provider Aequitas, which said the contracts had got in the way of the company developing a new data product. The Canadian enforcer ended its probe after finding Aequitas’s product was unlikely to be a significant rival to services provided by TMX.
Behavioural matter of the year – Europe: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in Europe.
German Lego investigation
The case is one of the roster of investigations into novel vertical restraints in e-commerce by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office. The case consisted of two separate but related investigations by the enforcer: one into alleged resale price maintenance, and another into a newly implemented Lego functional discount scheme. This added significant additional complexity to the case. Lego persuaded the enforcer that it had not followed a hidden plan to curb online sellers, and ultimately settled, agreeing to pay only €130,000.
DG Comp trucks cartel settlement
The era of multi-billion DG Comp fines isn’t over yet: in July 2016, the enforcer extracted €2.93 billion in a settlement with Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF. Lawyers representing the companies secured a settlement after the competition authority had issued a statement of objections, ending the perception that DG Comp would not settle cases at such a late stage in the proceedings. Scania was not part of the settlement and continues face an investigation.
Société Générale Euribor fine reduction
In 2014 Société Générale filed an appeal against the European Commission’s settlement decision in Euribor – the first-ever appeal of a settlement decision filed in the EU’s courts. On 6 April 2016, in an unprecedented move, the Commission announced its decision to slash Société Générale’s fine by more than €218 million, following the withdrawal of the appeal to the General Court by the bank.
DG Comp liner shipping price signalling investigation
The European Commission broke new ground with its investigation of price signalling by many of the world’s liner shipping operators. It reached a preliminary view that a horizontal arrangement existed, despite the absence of evidence other than public announcements of and similarities in price movements. The shipping liners ultimately ended the investigation with commitments, leading to no finding of infringements.
Behavioural matter of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa.
Samsung, LG and Apple complaints to KFTC about Qualcomm
The KFTC decided in December 2016 to impose corrective orders and a 1 trillion won (€816 million) fine on Qualcomm – the highest monetary fine the KFTC has ever imposed on an individual company. After a three-year investigation, the KFTC found that Qualcomm’s licensing practice for standard-essential patents constituted an abuse of its dominant market position. Samsung, LG and Apple supported the KFTC’s investigation by providing relevant evidence and a legal basis that was used to prove Qualcomm’s conduct.
Seoul High Court clears Schaeffler
In 2014, facing six alleged co-conspirators’ admission of wrongdoing, counsel to Schaeffler succeeded in substantially reducing the amount of a fine that the KFTC investigators sought. In 2016, the company persuaded the Seoul High Court to vacate the KFTC’s liability finding as well as the entire administrative fine, on the grounds that the enforcer did not present sufficient and credible evidence but largely relied on information from leniency applicants and other cooperating companies’ assertions.
Group Five challenge against South Africa’s Competition Commission
South Africa's largest cartel investigation commenced in 2008, involving hundreds of projects, including for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Group Five was the main leniency applicant but in March 2015, the commission issued a complaint referral against Group Five, accusing it of engaging in cartel conduct. Group Five sought to access the commission's investigation record and, in June 2016, appealed to South Africa’s Competition Appeal Court, which ruled in Group Five's favour and ordered the commission to immediately grant access to the non-privileged portions of its record. The commission appealed to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, which ultimately dismissed its appeal. The outcome provides clarity on the rights of defendants in complaint proceedings to access the Commission's investigation record, enabling them to assess the strength of the commission's case as well as their own defence.
KFTC duty free exchange rate investigation
The KFTC investigated whether eight duty-free retailers colluded on exchange rates, and found that the duty free retailers agreed on when and how much the exchange rate should be changed. However, the KFTC only issued a warning without imposing a fine, which saved the duty free retailers billions of won. It is very rare for the KFTC to discover cartel conduct and not impose any monetary penalty. Counsel succeeded in persuading the KFTC that (i) it was inevitable for the retailers to adjust the applied exchange rate from time to time, (ii) the retailers did not gain unfair profit from adjusting the applied exchange rate, and (iii) consumers wanted the retailers to apply the same exchange rate.
Matter of the year: Merger control, cartel, unilateral conduct, litigation or any other competition matter worldwide. Creative, strategic and innovative work by teams of in-house and external lawyers and economists.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s acquisition of SABMiller created a global brewer, and one of the world's leading consumer products companies. With a deal value of £71 billion (€82 billion), the deal ranks as the largest-ever offer for a UK company and the third-largest takeover in history. The merger gave rise to filings in around 25 jurisdictions including the EU, US and China. Significant remedies were offered across the board, requiring a complex, coordinated global antitrust strategy.
Dell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corporation – the largest technology merger in history – required coordination across 20 jurisdictions. The merger went through without formal conditions, even though it raised interesting and complex vertical issues. The deal was announced in October 2015; cleared by the FTC and European Commission in February 2016; and by Mofcom in August 2016.
DG Comp Google investigations
FairSearch, a consortium of companies initially formed to oppose Google’s acquisition of ITA, is the first and main complainant in the European Commission's investigation into Google for anticompetitive behaviour concerning its Android mobile device operating system, about which the enforcer issued a statement of objections in April 2016. FairSearch has acted as both as an intervener in the general search case, and as a complainant in relation to Google's alleged anti-competitive behaviour concerning Android. Google denies that its conduct violates EU competition law.
In re Vitamin C
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a precedent-setting opinion, vacated a $150 million judgment against two Chinese companies for fixing the price and supply of vitamin C exported from China. The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the defendants’ motion to dismiss on international comity grounds, and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice. The Second Circuit held that when foreign governments submit official statements and evidentiary proffers providing a reasonable interpretation of their own law, it is inappropriate for US courts to disregard those statements and apply their own interpretations. As the first major appellate decision on the application of international comity to private antitrust litigation in several decades, the decision provides important guidance to district courts going forward.
The €22 billion consumer for animal health asset swap, which closed in January 2017, transformed Sanofi into the largest consumer healthcare company and Boehringer Ingelheim into the second-largest animal health company globally. Boehringer Ingelheim ran a process that involved an M&A auction of the divestment business running on a parallel track with Boehringer’s negotiations with the European Commission over the asset perimeter and other terms of the divestment business. The tightly coordinated operation culminated in a fix-it-first clearance at the end of DG Comp’s Phase 1 investigation. This step was critical to enabling the overall worldwide asset swap with Sanofi to close on time.
Agency of the year – Americas: An agency in the Americas whose work in 2016 was particularly effective, strategic or innovative.
Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence
Brazil’s competition watchdog is as active as they come, having fined and launched scores of investigations into companies operating in a broad swathe of industries in 2016. The enforcer took great strides this year in its longest-running probe into an alleged orange juice cartel, breaking its previous settlement record with a €82.6 million deal with juice producers and nine individuals. It also brought an end to a 12-year review of Nestlé’s acquisition of chocolate company Garoto, after the companies agreed to structural and behavioural remedies. Recently, the authority agreed a handful of settlements related to Operation Lava Jato and with banks accused of collusion in the foreign exchange market.
Canada’s Competition Bureau
Canada’s Competition Bureau has grown its capacity and organisational efficiency under the leadership of Commissioner John Pecman, and has employed enforcement priorities designed to deliver benefits to Canadian consumers and companies. The enforcer demonstrates an increasing ability to enforce Canada’s Competition Act and to develop new policy and guidance, including efforts to litigate challenging cases, as well as resolving matters through novel procedural avenues such as mediation.
US Federal Trade Commission
The US Federal Trade Commission solidified its position as one of the world’s top antitrust enforcers in 2016, particularly when challenging mergers in court. The FTC sued to block a merger between the country’s two largest office supply stores, Staples and Office Depot; in May, a federal court in Washington, DC, agreed to block the merger. In June the FTC sued to block sodium chlorate maker Superior Plus’s acquisition of rival Canexus; the companies abandoned the deal the next day. The agency also secured a crucial appeals court victory in its challenge of a Pennsylvania hospital merger, leading to the collapse of that deal. The enforcer led the way against alleged monopolists in the US, suing Qualcomm for abusing its power over some microchip technologies.
US Department of Justice
Following a year marked by unusually tough regulatory scrutiny of proposed mergers, the DOJ’s efforts to maintain competition continue to have far-reaching impacts. The DOJ challenged two separate mergers in the health insurance industry, and its opposition to the proposed Halliburton/Baker Hughes merger helped to lead to the dissolution of the deal. Many believe these aggressive stances contributed to leading industry players having second thoughts about a number of large, very high-profile deals.
Agency of the year – Europe: An agency in Europe whose work in 2016 was particularly creative, strategic and innovative.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority
The CMA stepped up its game in 2016. Its highlight reel includes an unwinding order against Intercontinental Exchange and software company Trayport; excessive pricing decisions against pharmaceutical companies Actavis, Pfizer and Flynn; and a €58 million fine against GlaxoSmithKline in the agency’s first-ever pay-for-delay case. The CMA also launched a market study into price comparison tools, and for the first time, disqualified a director – the former managing director of an online retailer that fixed prices of posters sold on the Amazon marketplace.
France’s Competition Authority
The French enforcer has had a big year. It delivered a record gun-jumping fine against telecommunications company Altice for acquiring control of SFR and Virgin Mobile France before the deal received clearance, and again for breaching commitments attached to another merger. It is taking considerable initiative when it comes to big data – having launched a sector inquiry into the country's online advertising market – and is re-evaluating its hotel booking remedies with Booking.com. French courts have also taken the enforcer’s side several times, reinstating a €60.9 million predatory pricing fine against rail incumbent SNCF and upholding a €40 million penalty against Plavix, which claimed one of its branded drug had no substitutes.
Switzerland’s Competition Commission
The Swiss enforcer started 2017 on a high note, fining seven banks 99 million francs (€92.4 million) for manipulating the Euribor and yen Libor benchmarks, as well as certain Swiss franc interest rate derivatives. Last year the authority was active on all fronts: it imposed penalties against companies implicated in a construction cartel, and fined the country’s former state-owned telecoms company €64.9 million for abusing its dominance in live pay-TV broadcasting.
The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition
Neelie Kroes brought in the era of big fines. Joaquín Almunia kicked off the Google case. It’s been up to commissioner Margrethe Vestager to keep up the good work – and she has, by broadening the Google probe and moving it forward, breaking records with the truck cartel fine, and pursuing a €16 billion state aid case against Apple. The enforcer has also taken a leading role in e-commerce, scrutinising the area in a bid to improve conditions for European consumers. DG Comp is firing on all cylinders.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has for several years been held up as the model for national European competition authorities. Under the stewardship of Andreas Mundt, it has become a relentlessly aggressive enforcer, determined to innovate in e-commerce and vertical restrictions and unafraid to stand alone, as in its pursuit of stronger restraints on Booking.com. The authority fearlessly takes on big companies and cutting-edge concerns, such as the competition implications of privacy changes at Facebook.
Agency of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa: An agency in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa whose work in 2016 was particularly creative, strategic and innovative.
Egypt’s Competition Authority has turned itself into North Africa’s leading agency, with a will to drive things forward and make a resounding difference to the country’s economy. 2016 saw the enforcer active in investigations ranging from telecoms, fertiliser, healthcare insurance and football broadcasting. Mona El Garf, the enforcer’s chair, was featured in GCR Women in Antitrust 2016.
Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is Asia’s leading competition enforcer, keeping itself busy with routine cartel enforcement and a will to police Korea’s mergers market, alongside a desire to innovate. Amongst a slew of international cartel investigations, the agency found time to wind up its investigation of Qualcomm, slotting the KFTC as a pioneer of enforcement on the border between antitrust and intellectual property.
2016 was a big year for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In appeals, Australia’s top court reinstated its decision that Flight Centre illegally tried to stop three airlines from undercutting its ticket prices; in cartels, it extracted fines from Macquarie Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group for their attempt to rig a benchmark for the Malaysian ringgit; and its criminal enforcement regime finally kicked off, with the filing of charges in a liner shipping investigation, and a guilty plea from NYK Line.
Enforcement action of the year: The best decision or enforcement action from a competition authority or court in 2016.
CMA online poster cartel prosecution
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority prosecuted an online sales cartel by poster sellers on Amazon Marketplace using automated repricing software. It was also the first case in which the CMA has secured the disqualification of a director following his company's infringement of competition law. The enforcer issued the infringement decision within eight months of the case's launch, and launched a compliance campaign ahead of holiday shopping to warn online sellers about price-fixing. The CMA coordinated its searches with the UK police on behalf of the US Department of Justice, which engaged in a parallel prosecution.
US FTC v Staples/Office Depot
The US FTC won a May 2016 ruling granting a preliminary injunction to block the $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot, on the grounds of harm to large corporate customers that could not easily substitute to other retailers such as Amazon Business. During a three-week trial, the agency’s bureau of competition emphasised internal company documents showing that Staples and Office Depot saw each other as the prime – and perhaps only – competition in this submarket. The federal district court’s decision helps to cement the targeted customer and cluster markets approaches to market definition and evaluation of harm.
Russia’s Google Android fine
Although a range of Google’s practices have been probed by competition authorities worldwide, the only enforcer to have so far come down on the company is Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Office. Last year, the authority ordered Google to pay a modest fine of 438 million roubles (€6 million) for bundling pre-installed apps on phones that use its Android software. The investigation had been kicked off by a complaint from Russian search engine Yandex, which holds approximately 60 per cent of the search market in Russia.
KFTC Qualcomm fine
Korea’s Fair Trade Commission closed out 2016 with a staggering 1.03 trillion won (€816 million) fine against chip-maker Qualcomm for violating commitments to license its standard essential patents on FRAND terms. It has also restricted the terms on which the company can enter into patent licence agreements. The case marks the enforcer’s highest-ever penalty on a single company, and highlights how the leading enforcer is unafraid to go after US technology behemoths.
DG Comp’s Apple tax decision
A state aid case made headlines worldwide in August 2016 when the European Commission ordered Ireland to seek up to €13 billion in back taxes from Apple. The enforcer’s harsh condemnation of the sweetheart tax ruling was intended to send a “clear message” that the EU would not tolerate such illegal state aid. The case has also launched discussions worldwide on state-to-state politics, tax, antitrust and everything in between.
DG Comp blocks Hutchison/O2
In May 2016, the European Commission blocked CK Hutchison’s proposed acquisition of Telefónica’s O2 UK mobile business. The stalwart enforcer refused to accept anything less than a full divestment of either Hutchison’s Three business or O2, and refused to clear the deal after the telecoms companies proposed divestitures failed to measure up. The prohibition decision has only heightened speculation that the EU enforcer has toughened its stance on mobile consolidation under competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s leadership.
DG Comp trucks fine
The EU last year imposed its highest ever cartel fine – a whopping €2.93 billion – on five truck producers who fixed prices for 14 years and passed on the cost of environmental compliance to consumers. The decision breaks DG Comp’s previous cartel fine record twice over, and has already kicked off follow-on claims across Europe.
Academic Excellence Award: An academic competition specialist who has made an outstanding contribution to competition policy in 2016.
Ariel Ezrachi is the director of the University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy, and he wrote several articles and opinion pieces on EU competition law published in 2016. His pieces covered the core topics of competition law and procedure, as well as cutting-edge areas such as artificial intelligence and collusion, online restrictions, and the role of quality in competition law assessments.
Nicolas Petit is a professor at the law School of the University of Liege Belgium, as well as a visiting professor at EDHEC Business School in France. He authored or co-authored seven papers or articles published in 2016 on topics including intellectual property and Chinese state capitalism, of which two were among the top 10 most downloaded antitrust papers of the year according to SSRN.
Pablo Ibáñez Colomo
Pablo Ibáñez Colomo is an associate law professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He co-authors the popular “Chillin' Competition” weblog, and is known for his rapid, in-depth analysis of EU competition law developments. Aside from his LSE and blogging credentials, he is also a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.
Wouter Wils is a hearing officer for competition proceedings at the European Commission and a visiting professor at King’s College London. Nonetheless, he found the time to write two of the most-downloaded antitrust papers in 2016. “The use of leniency in EU cartel enforcement: An assessment after 20 years” and “Private enforcement of EU antitrust law and its relationship with public enforcement: Past, present and future” are ambitious in scope yet of a length that a judge or practitioner could read, with an emphasis on data.
University of East Anglia’s Centre for Competition Policy
The centre published multiple working papers in 2016 on popular topics including UK competition policy post-Brexit, which was co-authored by CMA part-time member Bruce Lyons. In June the group also hosted its 12th Annual Conference on Competition Policy in Financial Markets. With over 120 delegates, the programme for this year's event boasted a variety of perspectives from speakers with backgrounds in law, politics, economics and philosophy.
Economist of the year: A competition economist whose superior technical skill, practical judgment and excellence in client service in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
In 2016, Carl Shapiro supported the US FTC throughout its review of the proposed $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot. The court cited Shapiro’s reports and testimony at least 45 times in a 74-page decision granting an injunction against the deal. The court relied heavily on Shapiro’s testimony in accepting the market alleged by the FTC, and in finding that Amazon’s expansion would be insufficient to quickly restore competition.
Gunnar Niels leads Oxera’s work in competition policy and litigation, with more than 20 years’ experience in the field. In the last year he has testified three times in the UK courts: twice for MasterCard, and once for Unwired Planet. He also appeared in a Dutch court on a vertical restraints case, a Finnish court in the wood cartel damages case, and acted as a court-appointed expert in an abuse case before the Court of Amsterdam. Niels advised on merger cases in front of the European Commission and the CMA.
During his tenure at DG COMP, Kai-Uwe Kuhn has tackled thorny topics such as standard-essential patents and state aid policy. Now in academia, Professor Kuhn continues to show a preparedness to take on topical issues and explain them in a way which makes sense to lawyers as well as economists.
David Dranove of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University was retained by the DOJ to evaluate the competitive impact of the Anthem-Cigna merger. In the bench trial, presided over by US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Dranove responded to the testimony of three economists on four separate occasions. Dranove’s testimony, built on his decades of research on competition in the health care industry, covered a range of topics, including upstream and downstream product and geographic market definition, the effects of market concentration in buy-side and sell-side markets, and the roles of competition and innovation in health care.
Corporate counsel of the year: An in-house competition lawyer whose superior technical skill and practical judgment on behalf of his or her company in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
Juliusz Komorek, Ryanair
Ryanair has been involved in some of the highest-profile recent cases in competition and state aid, with more 30 cases before the European Commission on state aid matters alone, and several state aid cases in front of the General Court. These cases set precedent about the approach to state aid issues in the aviation sector. Ryanair continues to be a prolific litigator and is involved in a large number of competition cases. Juliusz Komorek manages this complex portfolio with a relatively small team.
Cynthia Randall, Microsoft
Randall leads Microsoft’s work in the antitrust damages sphere: during 2016 she masterminded Microsoft’s strategy in its billion-dollar claims against the global lithium-ion batteries cartel. This involved both an opt-out of the class action in the USA and bringing parallel stand-alone damages proceedings in the EU. She has had to deal with complex legal and economic issues, such as claims that key aspects of the case are subject to compulsory arbitration, and complex settlement negotiations.
Sabine Chalmers, Anheuser-Busch InBev
In October 2015, AB InBev announced its intention to acquire SABMiller to become the world’s leading brewer, which required merger control approval across the world, including in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa and a number of other jurisdictions. At AB Inbev, the job of shepherding the transaction through the merger control process in these disparate jurisdictions was led by Sabine Chalmers, who was instrumental at coordinating clearance globally. She has now assumed the chief legal officer role for the post-merger AB InBev.
Sarah Berwick, SABMiller
Sarah Berwick led the in-house team managing the competition aspects of AB InBev/SABMiller. Berwick managed multiple filings, as SAB's complex business had operations spread across 70 countries; coordinated responses to heavy information requests in multiple jurisdictions; and negotiated remedies in a number of key jurisdictions.
Litigator of the year: A competition litigator whose superior technical skill, practical judgment and excellence in serving clients in court in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
Jonathan Jacobson, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Jacobson successfully handled a number of especially important litigations in 2016, including Vitamin C – a precedent-setting ruling by the Second Circuit that reversed a $150 million judgment against his clients – and Mylan v Celgene. He serves as lead counsel in several other significant litigations, including for the Mylan v Warner Chilcott product hopping case in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; and as lead counsel to the Hitachi defendants in the Capacitors litigation in the Northern District of California.
Jon Lawrence, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Jon Lawrence is instructed on a number of the highest-profile antitrust litigation claims. He leads the Freshfields team defending MasterCard in the largest claim in English legal history, a proposed £14 billion action by consumers. He also defends Volvo/Renault Trucks in the anticipated forthcoming trucks follow-on litigation in multiple European countries, and is coordinating the international defence. He has continued his longstanding representation of ABB, coordinating its international defence of multiple claims arising from the European Commission power cables cartel decision.
Daniel Wall, Latham & Watkins
Wall won a motion to dismiss Songkick’s antitrust claims that were based on Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, and denial of Songkick’s preliminary injunction motion. He represents American Airlines in a suit alleging it, Delta and United conspired to charge higher prices for multi-city combinable flights, and won a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Wall, who argued the preliminary injunction motion on behalf of the defendants the same week he argued the preliminary injunction motion in the Songkick case, was awarded “Litigator of the Week” for this win as well. In a US DOJ prosecution of alleged bid-rigging at real estate auctions, Wall helped to draft and argue a successful motion to suppress evidence obtained without a warrant – 10 days after another judge had denied a similar defence motion in a related action.
Robert A Milne, White & Case
In 2016, Milne represented CertainTeed Gypsum in multidistrict litigation involving allegations that the largest US drywall manufacturers conspired to raise the price of gypsum board, as well as eliminate a form of price protection. In February 2016, the court granted summary judgment to CertainTeed, even though it denied the other defendants’ motions, for which Milne was recognised as “Litigator of the Week”. He also represents Pfizer in class actions regarding Celebrity, and Warner Chilcott in the Loestrin litigation.
Hollis Salzman, Robins Kaplan
Throughout her career, Hollis Salzman has recovered more than $2 billion in settlements for victims of antitrust cartels, but her performance over the past year has been particularly noteworthy. She has achieved stunning successes in two separate and historically significant pieces of antitrust litigation – securing $1.2 billion in total settlements from air cargo defendants, and so far $670 million in auto parts litigation.
Dealmaker of the year: A lawyer whose superior knowledge, practical judgement and negotiation skills in merger clearance matters in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
John D Harkrider, Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider
Harkrider last year led global teams on deals worth more than $70 billion dollars – including Dell/EMC, which was valued at $67 billion and received extensive merger review around the world. That deal involved using an unusual strategy that consisted of delaying Hart-Scott-Rodino and DG Comp notification so that the enforcers could undertake an extensive review without time pressure, and without formally starting a second review.
Claire Jeffs, Slaughter and May
Jeffs has been involved in a large number of high-profile merger cases before the UK and EU competition authorities, as well as coordinating merger approvals worldwide. Her recent merger control highlights include advising Vodafone in relation to its Netherlands JV with Liberty Global and in Vodafone’s representations to the European Commission in relation to Hutchison/O2.
Brian Facey, Blake Cassels & Graydon
In 2016, Facey was instrumental in obtaining clearance from Canada’s Competition Bureau for numerous high-profile deals – including precedent-setting and novel work on behalf of Superior Plus on its C$932million (€664.5 million) offer to acquire Canexus. The bureau cleared the transaction, noting that the value of efficiencies arising from the merger outweighed its anti-competitive effects – the first time the enforcer has ever cleared a merger based on efficiencies alone. He also led Canadian competition work for AB InBev during its acquisition of SABMiller.
John Davies, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Davies has had another busy year making deals happen, even when there are major obstacles to overcome. Impossible to ignore was his successful competition strategy for AB InBev/SABMiller, which created one of the world's largest consumer goods companies. The deal concluded in 2016 and was subject to regulatory clearances in more than 30 countries. Davies also acted for Alere, the US headquartered global manufacturer of diagnostic tests, in its $6 billion acquisition by Abbott Laboratories.
Michael Egge, Latham & Watkins
Egge navigated clients through a number of strategic deals in 2016 which were antitrust sensitive and/or industry transforming. A selection of the headline deals he led from the past year include Time Warner Cable’s $79 billion merger with Charter Communications, creating the second largest TV and internet provider in the US; and the ongoing representation of Agrium in its $36 billion merger of equals with Potash Corporation.
Phillip Proger, Jones Day
Throughout 2016, Proger was involved in several significant transactions for prominent global companies. He handled Aetna’s high-profile proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana, which involved a year-long investigation by the US DOJ and trial in Washington, DC, federal court in defence against the agency’s lawsuit to block the deal; and Rite Aid’s proposed $17.2 billion acquisition by Walgreens, which is undergoing review by the US FTC.
Lawyer of the year – Under 40: A competition lawyer under the age of 40 whose superior technical skill, practical judgement and excellence in client service in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
David Rosner, Blake Cassels & Graydon
Rosner is a trusted adviser on all aspects of Canadian competition law to clients in a wide range of industries. His recent experience on high-profile mergers includes advising Dell in connection with its $67 billion acquisition of EMC, and Henkel in its $3.6 billion acquisition of Sun Products. Rosner’s recent antitrust work has included representing Penguin in the Canadian e-books investigation and an abuse of dominance complaint brought before Canada's Competition Bureau.
Leigh Oliver, Hogan Lovells
Oliver’s stock continues to rise in the antitrust bar. In 2016, she second-chaired the defence of the FTC’s challenge to Advocate Health Care’s proposed merger NorthShore University HealthSystem in the Northern District of Illinois. Oliver put on an important witness from a health plan customer in support of the merger at the hearing and collaborated with lead trial counsel Robby Robertson on all aspects of trial strategy and execution in the preliminary injunction case.
Amanda Reeves, Latham & Watkins
Honoured among GCR’s Women in Antitrust and recently elected as global co-chair of Latham & Watkins’ global antitrust team, Reeves handled Federal Commission Communication and DOJ review of Time Warner’s $78 billion tie-up with Charter Communications.
Sathya Gosselin, Hausfeld
Sathya Gosselin, one of Hausfeld’s youngest partners, has led the firm’s efforts in the NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing litigation, of the largest complex antitrust matters in the United States, as well as the Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge litigation.
Elaine Ewing, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
In 2016, Ewing played a leading role in advising three of the largest and highest-profile deals in the world: Dow Chemical in its $130 billion merger with DuPont; Air Liquide in its $13.4 billion acquisition of Airgas; and Abbott Laboratories in its $25 billion acquisition of St Jude. She continues to defend Keurig in monopolisation litigation challenging a variety of Keurig’s actions related to Keurig’s coffee brewers and portion packs.
Lawyer of the year: A competition lawyer whose superior skill, practical judgement and excellence in client service in 2016 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.
J Mark Gidley, White & Case
Mark Gidley’s highlights for 2016 include winning appeals court confirmation of the dismissal of all claims in the Doryx antitrust litigation, the first-ever summary judgment decision in an antitrust “product hopping” case. He represented Allergan/Warner Chilcott in removing all indirect purchasers’ reverse payment claims regarding Asacol, as well as claims under several states’ laws. He represented Allergan in the Botox class action litigation when in May 2016, the court rejected the class plaintiffs’ motion for judgment. Gidley also advised Warner Chilcott in antitrust class actions challenging the company’s settlements of patent litigation for Loestrin 24 Fe with generic manufacturers. In February 2016, the First Circuit declined to rule that the reverse payments urged by class action plaintiffs (and the FTC) qualified as reverse “payments” under Actavis, instead remanding to the district court. Currently, he is defending Anthem in the DOJ’s challenge to its $54 billion acquisition of Cigna Corporation.
Mariana Tavares de Araujo, Levy & Salomão Advogados
Tavares was the leading partner representing Serasa Experian, Brazil’s largest credit bureau in challenging the creation of a new credit bureau by Brazil’s five largest financial institutions before CADE, listed among the 10 most relevant merger cases by CADE in 2016. Her active role in raising antitrust concerns before CADE resulted in clearance subject to conditions, including the adoption of non-discrimination practices by the banks. She also played a leading role in the complex minority shareholding case CSN/Usiminas, where CADE issued a landmark decision in 2016. Tavares assisted companies such as Reichhold and Tenneco in securing leniency before CADE.
George Cary, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
In 2016, Cary has steered clients through the most complex global deals and securing precedent-setting litigation wins, for both plaintiffs and defendants. Among numerous other matters, he is lead global counsel to Dow Chemical in its $130 billion merger with DuPont, which requires approval in over 20 jurisdictions, including the US, the EU, China, and Brazil. Cary acted as global counsel to Abbott Laboratories in its $25 billion acquisition of St Jude, which required clearance in the US, EU, China, and numerous other jurisdictions, and he was lead global counsel to Western Digital in its acquisition of SanDisk. In court he he helped defend Sanofi’s summary judgment win before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a $7 billion monopolisation lawsuit challenging Sanofi’s loyalty discounts, and helped Teladoc preserve its antitrust claims against the Texas Medical Board.
Nicholas Levy, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Levy was involved in a significant number of the year’s major EU and UK cases, including Abbott Laboratories’ conditionally approved acquisition of St Jude Medical; Chemours (formerly DuPont) on the European Commission’s investigation into its automotive refrigerants collaboration with Honeywell; Euronext on the Deutsche Börse/London Stock Exchange merger and Euronext’s acquisition of LCH SA from LSE; Google on the European Commission’s ongoing investigation into its Android business; and HCA’s landmark reversal of the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s private healthcare report.
Regional firm of the year – Americas: A firm based solely in North, South or Central America that has had an outstandingly successful 2016 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.
Blake Cassels & Graydon
Blakes’ deal practice in the past year has encompassed the full range of challenging M&A matters in Canada. It represented Superior Plus in a proposed acquisition of Canexus; while the tie-up failed due to US FTC opposition, the Competition Bureau for the first time cleared a deal based on the efficiencies defence alone. The firm also acted for AB InBev in several mergers, including with SABMiller; Shell in Shell/BG; and Syngenta during its sale to ChemChina.
Cravath Swaine & Moore
Cravath has handled regulatory clearance in the past year for nearly 30 pending or completed deals with a cumulative value of over $538 billion, including currently for Time Warner’s acquisition by AT&T, British American Tobacco’s merger with Reynolds, and Qualcomm’s acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. The firm has helped to clear regulatory hurdles for companies including AB InBev’s merger with SABMiller, Precision Castparts’ acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway, Delhaize’s merger with Royal Ahold, Weyerhaeuser’s merger with Plum Creek Timber, Cameron’s sale to Schlumberger, Starwood Hotels’ sale to Marriott, AGL Resources’ sale to The Southern Company, and Mylan’s acquisition of Meda Aktiebolag.
Levy & Salomão Advogados
In 2016, the firm designed and implemented the first internal leniency programme in Brazil, which prompts employees to disclose illegal acts in exchange for legal support and disciplinary immunity. The firm secured clearance for deals filed under the regular procedure in record time, including 38 days for Michelin/Levorin, and represented Serasa Experian, Brazil’s largest credit bureau in challenging the creation of a new credit bureau by Brazil’s five largest financial institutions before CADE.
Lino Beraldi Belluzzo e Caminati
The firm assisted construction company Andrade Gutierrez in signing three leniency agreements – two of which were “leniency plus” – and two settlement agreements with CADE in Operation Car Wash. It also acted for Citicorp in a foreign exchange manipulation settlement, and WWL and Eukor in negotiating a settlement in the global vehicle shipping cartel. The firm assisted HSBC and Citibank in complex deals, and represents the Forum dos Operadores Hoteleiros do Brasil against the online travel agencies’ parity clauses being investigated by CADE.
Recently, Robins Kaplan helped to recover $1.2 billion for plaintiffs in Air Cargo Shipping Services; $590 million in a non-follow-on suit against private equity funds allegedly colluding in leveraged buyouts; more than $670 million to date in Auto Parts; and $433 million in Polyurethane Foam. The firm defeated motions to dismiss by Merck and contact lens manufacturers and has been named co-lead counsel in a class action against Total Gas & Power.
In 2016 attorneys at Susman Godfrey secured over $1 billion in recoveries in antitrust cases alleging price fixing, market allocation, refusal to deal and monopolisation in industries including computer operating systems, airlines, medical devices, telecommunications, milk, vitamins, and specialty steel.
Regional firm of the year – Europe: A firm based solely in Europe that has had an outstandingly successful 2016 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.
Since founding Bredin Prat’s competition group in 1972, practice head Robert Saint-Esteben has seen it grow into one of France’s best. The practice has been involved in a raft of significant French and European matters: it has acted for Apple in challenging France’s Competition Authority for seizing privileged files in a dawn raid; Chronopost in the same enforcer’s courier and deliveries cartel probe; Orange, bagging it a 20% cut to a €117 million abuse of dominance investigation; and third party Iliad in DG Comp’s investigation of Hutchison/VimpelCom.
Gleiss Lutz is a true European powerhouse. If there’s a closely-watched challenge going through the European courts, or a cartel case involving German companies, it’s safe to bet that Gleiss is involved. The firm’s competition head, Ingo Brinker, and partner Ulrich Soltész are currently handling European review of ChemChina/Syngenta for the seller. The firm has otherwise recently advised HeidelbergCement on its takeover of Italcementi, been involved in 15 auto parts cases, and guided Daimler through DG Comp’s trucks cartel investigation.
Van Bael & Bellis
The Brussels-based firm has acted on an impressive roster of cases. It acts for Japan Air Lines in Air Cargo, and has worked alongside Baker Botts in the EU representing Halliburton when the oilfield giant attempted to buy rival Baker Hughes. Last year Van Bael & Bellis was also counsel to publisher Odile Jacob in its decade-long challenge of DG Comp’s 2004 decision to allow Lagardère to divest assets to an investment fund as part of the acquisition of Vivendi’s publishing group.
Former Clifford Chance antitrust co-head Oliver Bretz has created something unique in London and Brussels competition boutique Euclid – the sole competition-only firm operating on the UK market. After setting up shop in late 2014, Bretz has gathered a crack team featuring partners Sarah Long and Marie Leppard, respectively former lawyers at Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance, and senior consultant Gavin Robert, formerly of Linklaters, who remains a panel member of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
Regional firm of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa: A firm based solely in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa that has had an outstandingly successful 2016 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.
Michael Han, the leader of Fangda’s competition practice, boasts a sterling reputation in China’s antitrust bar. The firm is skilled at handling major international deals: recent standouts include representing Anheuser-Busch InBev during its merger with SABMiller. The firm also secured a full declination for Hoegh, after the National Development and Reform Commission formally investigated the company for its possible role in the roll-on roll-off shipping cartel.
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas
Antitrust specialists are in high demand in India. Shardhul Amarchand Mangaldas’ lawyers are at the top of the pack, and the firm’s workload reflects it. It has filed the complaint that helped launch India’s Google investigation; acted for a defendant in multiple successful Competition Appellate Tribunal challenges; and has represented the likes of Monsanto and Uber in high-profile abuse of dominance cases.
John Yong Ren, T&D Associates’ managing partner, is known for his excellent connections with China’s competition enforcers, as well as his serious skill in handling tough investigations. Praised for its “rich local experience, excellent judgment, tireless diligence, and business-oriented approach”, it’s no surprise that the firm took the lead for Tetra Pak as it faced a blockbuster State Administration for Industry and Commerce abuse of dominance investigation. In deals, T&D acts for Dow Chemical during its complex merger with DuPont.
Yoon & Yang
Yoon & Yang has been involved in most of Korea’s notable antitrust work in 2016. Alongside other firms, it represented Qualcomm in a Korean investigation of the company’s standard-essential patent licensing practices – perhaps the most closely-watched intellectual property-related case of 2016. The firm also represented intervenor Intel in the ultimately blocked Lam Research/KLA Tencor deal; MAN Truck as it successfully petitioned Korea’s Supreme Court to overturn a $100 million truck cartel fine; and Otis Elevator in its defence of a cartel damages claim.
Yulchon is renowned for its prowess in cartel defence work and fighting for its clients before the KFTC and Korea’s courts. Recent highlights include convincing the Seoul High Court to overturn the KFTC’s industrial bearings decision for Schaeffler and, in another case, to find the Korean enforcer had miscalculated Continental’s fine for its part in the auto parts cartel. In deals, Yulchon helped the Boehringer Ingelheim/Sanofi deal win conditional Korean clearance.