Hungary: High market share does not necessarily mean dominance

Premium 01 October 1998

Under the former Competition Act, the fact that a company had a 30 per cent market share was sufficient to establish a dominant market position within the meaning of the Act. Under the new Act (effective as of January 1 1997), the existence of a dominant market position can only be established after various aspects of the market have been considered. The new Act’s definition of a ‘dominant market position’, according to the Competition Office, includes factors such as the availability of other products or services to consumers and the fact that a dominant company can make business decisions at its discretion regardless of competitors. In short, the once black-and-white rule on dominance has given way to a more sophisticated market assessment.

Israel: New Commissioner takes active role

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The Supreme Court has recently adopted a de minimis rule. A company’s executives may be subject to imprisonment for criminal violations by the company. Failure to obtain approval for an agreement in restraint of trade is actionable immediately upon signing the agreement itself

Mexico: Competition Commission’s new internal regulations

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The Mexican FCC regulations recently issued establish the responsibilities and roles of the various directors and the line of reporting to the FCC chairman. What is less transparent is the demarcation of responsibilities between the individual directors.

The Netherlands: Competition Authority gets into full swing

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While overall impressions of the Authority’s performance remain good, the Authority is aware that problems could arise as the deadline for decisions on the more than 1,000 notified agreements draws nearer.

Spain: Sugar merger subject to stringent conditions

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Although apparently the TDC does not oppose the merger, it does subject it to very onerous conditions. When considering its final decision, the Government will no doubt have in mind two considerations: on the one hand, to create a strong Spanish sugar manufacturer able to compete with other international players and, on the other hand, to maintain effective competition in the Spanish market. It will be interesting to see which consideration prevails.

Sweden: Market Court rejects request for prohibition of merger

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The Market Court (the ‘Supreme Court’ for competition matters in Sweden) has recently given its first judgment in a merger matter. The court rejected the Competition Authority’s request for a prohibition of the merger in question. In its judgment the Court would seem to have placed great emphasis on the need of the merging parties to rationalise and restructure in order to maintain their competitive strength.

United Kingdom: BA/AA alliance: is Mandelson in at the deep end?

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Mr Mandelson must make his decision shortly. While there are good economic arguments in favour of establishing a market for slots, it will be interesting to see whether Mr Mandelson is prepared to back the OFT in the face of opposition from Brussels. The alternative involves proceeding against the advice of the OFT - a course of action occasionally taken by his predecessor, Margaret Beckett, who notably referred two mergers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission against the advice of the OFT.

Franchising: UK firm not liable for actions of its US franchising subsidiary

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Not much is left of the franchisees’ case on remand. Although the appeals court declined to dismiss the case outright and said it was 'not inconceivable' that a class action might be used 'in a carefully controlled manner', it appears that the franchisees will be limited to arguing that Meineke’s conduct constituted a breach of their particular versions of the franchise agreement. Any damages that may be awarded in the future would be limited to the lost profits that each franchisee could prove based on his or her individual circumstances.

Long moves to Olswang

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After eight years at Coudert Brothers, highly-regarded telecoms expert Colin Long will join London’s Olswang solicitors.

MCI/WorldCom cleared

Premium 01 September 1998

The European Commission recently cleared the US$37 billion merger between MCI Communications and WorldCom, followed a few days later by the US Department of Justice.