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Argentina: New Argentine antitrust law proposed

Premium - 01 December 1997

Law 22,262 has been widely criticised in Argentina as an ineffective and outdated tool for controlling the activities of monopolies. In the last two years a wave of mergers and acquisitions has taken place in Argentina, but the Tribunal has not issued any relevant policy or participated in any way in the process, taking a passive role because the law only penalises an abuse of a dominant position but not the creation of a position of dominance. As a result of this criticism, the government has put before Congress the BAL, whose the main features are set out opposite.

Austria: Merger control turnover rules

Premium - 01 December 1997

The Austrian Cartel Court’s decision to interpret the turnover calculation rules of Austrian merger control somewhat restrictively is very welcome news for all companies engaging in mergers and acquisitions. The court’s interpretation, albeit as yet unconfirmed by the Austrian Supreme Court, will go some way towards making the inclusion of turnover for the purpose of merger control, which is almost open-ended according to the letter of the law, more manageable. In effect, as long as there are no spillover effects to other partners of a joint venture concerned, the decision would seem to exclude the turnover of joint venture partners (and not of the joint venture as such).

Belgium: Conditional clearance

Premium - 01 December 1997

The previous case law of the Council suggested that it had adopted the EU Commission’s approach that undertakings could be accepted in both stage I and stage II decisions. (The amended EU merger regulation, which comes into effect on 1 March 1998, incorporates a new provision confirming that the EU Commission may make stage I (and stage II) clearance decisions conditional on undertakings.)

Canada: User fees introduced

Premium - 01 December 1997

The Competition Bureau recently began charging user fees for, among other things, merger filings.

Denmark: Group exemptions under new Act

Premium - 01 December 1997

The Danish competition authority is in the process of issuing group exemptions and has published a draft group exemption for business chains within the daily consumer goods area.

European Union: More cooperation

Premium - 01 December 1997

It remains to be seen whether a significant caseload is transferred by the Commission to national authorities following the adoption of this Notice. If this does result in a considerable reallocation of cases, there will inevitably be increased pressure on the resources of national competition authorities. Of particular interest in this context is that the UK Competition Bill is due to implement an EU-style competition regime in the UK in 1998. In conjunction with this, the Bill contains specific provisions authorising the Director General of Fair Trading to obtain a warrant to enter premises by force when undertaking an investigation at the request of the European Commission in connection with an Article 85 or 86 investigation which has been commenced at the EU level.

Finland: Customers illegally tied

Premium - 01 December 1997

In its decision to increase the fine proposed by the Office of Free Competition from Fmk3 million to Fmk5 million in a case relating to abuse of a dominant market position, the Competition Council mentioned as an aggravating factor the fact that the form of abuse concerned was both generally condemned and also prohibited under EC Competition Law.

France: Multi-merger notification form

Premium - 01 December 1997

The new common form may give rise (perhaps unintentionally) to an increase in pre-notifications and possibly full notification in France. It will also formalise the pre-notification contact with the DGCCRF.

Germany: Tourism mergers: cooperation with EC

Premium - 01 December 1997

It seems unlikely that the BKA will clear both transactions in their current form. In particular, the horizontal links between the yellow block and the red block could threaten domestic competition.

Hungary: Budapest water privatised

Premium - 01 December 1997

The Hungarian Competition Council’s decision essentially permits the participation of powerful foreign companies in existing Hungarian monopoly companies under the new Hungarian merger control rules. The decision clears the way, from a competition law point of view, for further privatisations of Hungarian monopoly companies.