Ashurst’s competition practice is relatively small – at least, compared to numbers seen across the rest of the Global Elite – but it is well-formed. A group of highly rated specialists have recently taken on some tricky work in multiple jurisdictions, with key hubs in London, Brussels and Sydney. And European competition lawyers will no doubt be thankful for the firm’s stellar work in appealing against the European Commission’s Intel decision.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||-||Cartel ranking||-|
|Global heads||Nigel Parr, Bill Reid, Euan Burrows|
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||7|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||17|
|Lateral partner hires||0|
European Court of Justice advocate general Nils Wahl’s October 2016 opinion that recommended overturning the Intel decision – and its €1.06 billion fine – fell outside this year’s review period, but the victory is typical of the technical excellence of the company’s defence lawyers at Ashurst, led by London-based global competition head Nigel Parr. In another appeal Ashurst persuaded Spain’s Supreme Court that the calculation of fines by the country’s competition enforcer breached fundamental rights and produced disproportionate results, prompting the authority to rethink its approach to penalties.
In investigations, Parr and Duncan Liddell in London acted for Markit in the European Commission’s credit default swaps investigation. While the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition dropped its investigation of banks alleged to have colluded to lock rivals out of the CDS market in late 2015, Markit and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association remained defendants. DG Comp ultimately accepted commitments from the two companies; Ashurst says it took the “primary role” in coordinating that successful defence.
The Ashurst team also had a hand in some interesting mergers. It advised Ineos as it bought assets from Celanese – a four-to-three deal that saw the company acquire a 30% market share in a pair of markets, which DG Comp nonetheless unconditionally cleared in May 2016. Ashurst’s own 2012 merger with Australian firm Blake Dawson has also given it a top Australian deals practice. In the relevant period, it represented Office Depot in its ultimately aborted acquisition by rival office supplier Staples, which received Australian clearance; Allergan, in its US$160 billion tie-up with Pfizer that was cut down by a change in US tax law; and Australia’s finance department as it sold the registry of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.