GCR Awards 2019: voting now open

06 February 2019

GCR Awards 2019: voting now open

Readers are invited to vote for the cases, law firms, lawyers, economists and enforcers they believe excelled in 2018.

You can vote for this year’s GCR awards nominees here until midnight EST on February 22 February. Ballots are limited to one per person and professional email addresses must be submitted when casting votes. The winners will be announced at the GCR 9th Annual Awards Ceremony on 26 March in Washington, DC. At the dinner, we also will recognise our 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award honouree. 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:

Team Awards

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.

ArcelorMittal/Votorantim Siderurgia

ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Votorantim Siderurgia was one of the most complex matters in Brazil in 2018. It generated significant horizontal overlaps in the long steel industry, being initially seen as three-to-two merger in a mature industry with high barriers to entry. The Superintendence – the investigative arm of Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence – conducted a very close probe and recommended blocking the merger. After intense discussions and many detailed submissions, CADE cleared the merger, conditioned on divestitures. This is the only case ever in Brazil to receive a blocking recommendation from the Superintendence that later obtained a clearance decision from CADE’s tribunal.

AT&T/Time Warner

AT&T’s and Time Warner’s defence against accusations by the US Department of Justice that their $85.4 billion merger would harm competition and should be blocked has been called “the antitrust trial of the century”. After five weeks of testimony, on 12 June 2018, Judge Richard Leon delivered a comprehensive judgment rejecting the government’s claims in their entirety and denying the DOJ’s request to block the merger. The merger closed on 14 June 2018. Judge Leon’s ruling is currently on appeal.

Cigna/Express Scripts

The US DOJ cleared Cigna’s $67 billion acquisition of Express Scripts without a consent decree in just six months following a comprehensive second request investigation, paving the way for the deal to close by the end of 2018. The deal was particularly noteworthy as the first significant vertical transaction that the DOJ cleared since the agency challenged AT&T/Time Warner, and for Cigna receiving a major deal approval after the DOJ had prevailed in blocking its sale to competing health insurer Anthem.

CVS/Aetna

At US$70 billion, the CVS Health/Aetna merger was the largest healthcare deal ever. It prompted an investigation involving the US DOJ, 19 state attorneys general, 38 state insurance departments and Congress. Several influential groups, including the American Medical Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association, campaigned to block the deal, which announced just two weeks after DOJ sued to block AT&T/Time Warner’s vertical merger. On 10 October 2018, the deal won DOJ approval with a narrow divestiture aimed only at a small horizontal overlap in Medicare Part D; it has been consummated but awaits Judge Richard Leon’s signoff.

Energizer/Spectrum

Spectrum’s sale of its global consumer battery business to Energizer for US$2 billion in cash had a major impact in the US. Particularly after the US Federal Trade Commission challenged JM Smucker’s acquisition of Conagra’s Wesson cooking oil brand, many observers expected the agency to take a similar brand-specific view of the consumer battery market. Analysts said there was a “close to 100%” chance of a second request for Energizer/Spectrum. Yet the FTC cleared the deal without issuance of a second request in March 2018 in light of compelling evidence showing lack of closeness of competition.

Northrop Grumman/Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK’s US$9.2 billion sale to Northrop Grumman was one of the largest defence acquisitions in recent years. The deal triggered a second request investigation. On 5 June 2018, after an eight-month investigation, the US FTC approved the merger with a behavioural remedy. The companies agreed not to discriminate against competitors of Northrop Grumman in the provision of solid rocket motors for use in missile systems where Northrop is, or intends to compete as, prime contractor.

Suzano/Fibria Celulose

Suzano’s US$11 billion acquisition of Fibria Celulose combined the two largest players in the wood pulp industry in Brazil and created the world’s largest hardwood pulp producer. From a Brazilian standpoint, resulting market shares went beyond 50%, but, given the companies’ global footprint and the worldwide dynamics of the market, they were able to show CADE that the combination would not raise concerns. CADE engaged in a very thorough market test and successfully confirmed the theory presented by the companies, and ultimately cleared the deal with no restrictions. It was also cleared in the US, China and other jurisdictions.

Merger control matter of the year – Europe: Creative, strategic and innovative competition work for a client on a landmark merger control matter in Europe.

ABB/GE Industrial Solutions

ABB’s €2.27 billion acquisition of General Electric’s industrial solutions business was completed in just eight-and-a-half months, despite being notified in 16 jurisdictions and involving horizontal overlaps and vertical relations between the two companies. ABB proposed a methodology to deal with the large number of issues effectively, which the European Commission accepted.

Accuride/Mefro Wheels

Accuride’s acquisition of Mefro Wheels combined two companies that competed in the manufacture and supply of steel wheels to commercial vehicles. It was originally notified in several national jurisdictions, but taken on by the European Commission after referral by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office. The commission approved the deal, which would have created Europe’s largest supplier of commercial steel wheels with a market share of more than 60%, on condition that Accuride divest its European commercial steel wheel business, Gianetti Ruote. The companies successfully convinced the enforcer not to insist upon an upfront buyer for the divested business.

Bayer/Monsanto

The European Commission last March approved Bayer’s €62.5 billion acquisition of agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto on the condition that Bayer divest assets worth almost €6 billion. The company agreed to sell off all of its global seed and traits businesses, including research and development capabilities, to chemicals maker BASF. It also agreed to divest the non-selective herbicide glyphosate and license to competitors its digital agriculture products, which deploy agricultural data and algorithms to prescribe seed and pesticide usage. The commision also demanded that Monsanto divest assets that the agency deemed a future competitor against a Bayer seed treatment for nematode worms.

Microsoft/GitHub

The European Commission unconditionally approved Microsoft’s €6.56 billion acquisition of GitHub, a leading platform for source code hosting for open source software development. The enforcer’s investigation focused on conglomerate and potential network effects, with the authority concluding that if Microsoft tried to limit GitHub’s openness, developers would leave the platform. Microsoft also convinced the commission that it would have neither the incentive or ability to use GitHub’s strong market position to foreclose rivals, nor to refuse or limit access to the acquired company’s data, which it successfully argued was not unique.

Praxair/Linde

This $80 billion merger of equals brought together two of the world’s four largest gas suppliers in a complex cross-jurisdictional deal, with the European Commission demanding substantial divestitures before giving it the green light. The companies agreed to fully remove their market overlap in Europe, promising to sell off Praxair’s entire gas business in the European Economic Area to third parties. They also agreed to sell Praxair’s stake in the SIAD joint venture, which operates in Italy and central and eastern Europe, to its partner Flow Fin, and divest helium-sourcing contracts that were surplus to those needed to meet European demand.

Takeda/Shire

Pharmaceutical giant Takeda’s acquisition of Irish biopharma company Shire was worth €54.2 billion – the largest international transaction ever undertaken by a Japanese company and the second-largest free-market pharmaceutical sector merger to date. The European Commission approved the takeover on the condition that Shire sell off a biologic still under development. Despite the companies’ high combined market share, the Ukrainian competition authority approved the deal at Phase I.

T-Mobile/Tele2

In a break from the recent past, the European Commission unconditionally approved this four-to-three Dutch telecoms merger after it had already issued a statement of objections. The companies succeeded in alleviating the authority’s initial concerns that the deal could increase the likelihood of network operators coordinating their behaviour and of virtual providers facing unfavourable terms for wholesale access to network operators’ infrastructure. The authority decided that the combined entity’s 25% market share, as well as the relatively small 5% market share increment that Tele2 brought to Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile, meant the merger was unlikely to lead to significant price increases. It also questioned Tele2’s importance as a stand-alone competitive force in the market.

21st Century Fox/Sky

One of the most high-profile bids in recent years saw Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox convince the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to approve its takeover of Sky. The European Commission already had cleared the deal unconditionally in April 2017, but the UK’s public interest merger review focused on issues of cross-media plurality and the interaction between corporate governance and editorial control, and required an innovative assessment of measures of media consumption. The bid was subject to intense political and public scrutiny, with activist group Avaaz launching a challenge to the UK communications regulator’s assessment that Sky would be fit to hold a broadcast licence. The CMA approved the deal on condition that Sky News be divested to Disney, but the takeover ultimately failed when rival Comcast outbid Murdoch to acquire Sky.

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 Asia-Pacific, the Middle East or Africa.

Grab/Uber

Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s business in southeast Asia in exchange for Uber taking a 27.5% stake in Grab and a seat on the company’s board set legal and economic precedents for the transportation platform industry across Asia and globally. It was the first deal that required enforcers to assess merger control issues involving such platforms. Ten competition authorities looked at novel, complex and largely untested antitrust issues in this sector, including market definition, the role of ex-ante regulation and the structuring of remedies. Grab and Uber obtained multiple clearances, but Singapore's enforcer fined the companies for closing an anticompetitive merger. Vietnam preliminarily found that the companies should have notified their deal and that it harmed competition, but a formal decision has not yet been issued. The watchdog in the Philippines conditionally cleared the merger but fined the companies for violating an interim order to maintain business independence while it looked at the deal. Multiple appeals are pending.

UTC/Rockwell Collins

United Technologies announced in September 2017 its intent to acquire Rockwell Collins for $30 billion, and completed its takeover in November 2018. The biggest aerospace deal in history saw UTC become the world’s largest supplier of aerospace equipment and required approval from 12 US, EU, Asian and Latin American antitrust authorities. The deal was unconditionally approved in jurisdictions including Brazil, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Japan and Canada, but faced greater challenges in the US, EU and China. The US and EU enforcers required United Technologies to divest two smaller businesses, while China’s competition authority imposed behavioural conditions that include technological licensing on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and a guarantee of supply to existing Chinese customers.

SK Hynix/Toshiba

Korea’s SK Hynix was part of a consortium that acquired Toshiba’s memory chip unit, Toshiba Memory Corporation, for €15.7 billion in June, after a carefully devised financial structure satisfied multiple interest groups and addressed regulatory, political and financial demands. In Japan, SK Hynix’s US investors agreed to acquire non-voting, non-convertible preferred shares in Toshiba Memory, while in China the company agreed to accept restrictions on equity ownership for 10 years and to establish a firewall that stops it from accessing proprietary Toshiba information. SK Hynix invested $3.5 billion for a 15% stake in the company; Apple, Dell and Seagate Technology complete the consortium.

Devkom/Mantis

In May 2018, the Competition Commission of South Africa unconditionally cleared Accor subsidiary Devkom’s acquisition of a 50% stake in Mantis. Accor operates over 4,200 hotels in over 95 countries and sought to acquire the South African luxury hotel operator, which runs five-star properties and lodges. After a Phase I review, the authority concluded the deal would not significantly lessen competition in the hotel sector and did not raise sufficient public interest concerns to require remedies.

Walmart/Flipkart

In the world’s largest e-commerce deal to date, Walmart acquired a 77% stake in India’s leading online marketplace, Flipkart, for €14 billion. The Competition Commission of India unconditionally approved the merger, despite significant political and public backlash from those concerned about predatory pricing and foreign ownership. Walmart and Flipkart convinced the enforcer that the competitive, growing online market and the lack of significant overlaps between them warranted unconditional approval; however, the deal become more complex when online vendors brought a parallel enforcement action before the Competition Commission against Flipkart for allegedly abusing its dominance. The online retailer settled the suit shortly after the merger was approved in August 2018.

Luxottica/Essilor

The €40.2 billion merger between eyewear retailer Luxottica and lens maker Essilor required clearance in 20 jurisdictions, including the EU, US, China and Brazil. The combined company is the first global company to operate across all major optical sectors. The EU enforcer considered this when it analysed the deal’s conglomerate effects and the emerging horizontal competition between Essilor and Luxottica, but unconditionally cleared the deal after a Phase II investigation. The US’s FTC also unconditionally cleared the deal after it considered theories of vertical foreclosure affecting independent eye care professionals, potential competition in wholesale laboratory services and the horizontal competition in retail stores. Enforcers in Chile, Singapore and Canada also unconditionally cleared the deal; authorities in China and Turkey approved it subject to behavioural remedies that include prohibiting the merged company from imposing exclusivity conditions on retail stores, and from restricting access to its rivals’ products.

Engie’s sale of Glow to Global Power Synergy

French company Engie sold its controlling stake in Thai-listed energy company Glow to rival Global Power Synergy for €2.4 billion – but not without a protracted and complex merger review before Thailand’s energy sector regulator. The regulator initially blocked the deal due to an overlap between Engie and Global Power Synergy in one industrial area in Thailand; however, the companies renegotiated and excluded from the deal a plant located in the overlapping area. They re-filed in December 2018, and the sector regulator approved the deal after imposing on Glow a “fix-it-first” divestment.

Litigation of the year – Cartel defence: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a private action for cartel damages.

Korean Ramen antitrust litigation

Ramen manufacturer Nongshim achieved a complete defence victory against plaintiff classes of direct and indirect purchasers, who sued several Korean ramen noodle companies in 2013 for allegedly conspiring to fix the price of ramen noodles in Korea, with an alleged knock-on effect on US prices. Nongshim argued that the plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence to prove that there was a conspiracy in Korea and, even if this were proven, there was insufficient evidence of a link between what happened in Korea and Nongshim’s US business. The plaintiffs had argued that there was likely sufficient evidence, but it had been fraudulently concealed. The international nature of the accusations meant the defence relied on non-US and foreign language testimonies.

BritNed v ABB

In the first-ever cartel damages claim to proceed to final judgment in the UK, the High Court of England and Wales found that ABB did not use its position in the power cables cartel to overcharge BritNed – a joint venture between Dutch power transmission operator TenneT and the UK’s National Grid, which operates a 1,000MW submarine electricity link between the UK and the Netherlands. The court found that the costs related to ABB’s bid for BritNed’s Interconnector project were honestly compiled. (However, the court did find that ABB had achieved €13 million in indirect benefits from the cartel, because of inefficiencies in its cable design as well as broader savings from not having to compete, and ordered it to pay that fraction of more than €180 million in damages sought by BritNed.)

Auto Parts antitrust litigation

In the first class certification ruling in the Automotive Parts antitrust litigation, Judge Marianne Battani of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied a motion for class certification brought by distributors of small bearings over alleged price fixing. The claims by the distributors differed too much from those of the major automakers and equipment manufacturers they sought to represent. Judge Battani said the damages allegedly suffered by the distributors related only to their price-fixing allegations, and not to their further claims of bid-rigging and tendering collusion. As a result, she determined that the claims were not typical of absent class members.

Lithium-ion Batteries antitrust litigation

Panasonic fought off another attempt to gain class certification by indirect purchaser plaintiffs for follow-on damages related to the electronics manufacturer allegedly fixing, maintaining, stabilising and raising the price of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in the US for more than 11 years. Along with Sanyo, Panasonic argued that there was no proof of the alleged infringement making its way to the purchasers. The US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the direct and indirect purchasers who brought the case had not presented a reliable method of proving the alleged injury could be determined on a common basis, and ruled that the plaintiffs could not try again.

Kleen Products v International Paper

In December, the Seventh Circuit upheld an August 2017 judgment in favour of paper and packaging companies WestRock and Georgia Pacific, following a long-fought class action litigation by plaintiffs who accused several containerboard producers of fixing prices and reducing production over a seven-year period. The plaintiffs claimed that they represented tens of thousands of purchasers and settled with International Paper in June 2017 for $354 million, having already settled with PCA and Norampac. Georgia Pacific and WestRock fought on, arguing that its pricing and production decisions were made independently during the period of the class action.

C&S Wholesale Grocers

Almost a decade of litigation ended in April last year when the Minnesota federal district court ruled in favour of C&S Wholesale Grocers, finding that it had not conspired with rival wholesale grocer Supervalu to allocate the Midwest and New England geographical markets. The companies were accused by a class of more than 300 retail grocers seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The class was certified in 2016, with Supervalu settling in 2017. Fighting on, C&S Wholesale Grocers went to a two-week trial in April, after which the jury reached a decision in just over an hour in favour of the company.

Litigation of the year – Non-cartel defence: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a non-cartel private action.

Asacol antitrust litigation

In a rare interlocutory appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled in favour of drugmaker Allergan by reversing reversal of class certification for purchasers of Asacol. The ruling bars the widespread use of aggregate proof and post-trial affidavits as a substitute for fact-finding by juries under the Seventh Amendment of the US Constitution, which states no fact tried by a jury can be otherwise re-examined in any court. The plaintiffs challenged Allergan’s alleged “product hopping” – the development of new non-toxic Asacol – despite the Food and Drug Administration’s insistence that Allergan develop this phthalate-free version.

Comcast v Viamedia

On 16 August 2018, Comcast’s Spotlight division, which represents pay-TV providers in selling advertising inventory, won summary judgment in a case brought by its rival Viamedia. Viamedia claimed that Comcast monopolised the market for spot cable advertising representation through its control of “interconnects,” which bundle television distributors’ inventory. After Comcast declined to renew an agreement with Viamedia to resell inventory through Comcast’s interconnects, Viamedia accused Comcast of violating the Sherman Act by refusing to deal with Viamedia and by tying ad representation to interconnect access. In 2018, Comcast moved for summary judgment, arguing that Comcast never refused to sell interconnect access to a distributor on a standalone basis and that Viamedia’s tying theory was another attempt to compel Comcast to deal with Viamedia. Granting summary judgment, the court agreed with Comcast, holding that antitrust law does not oblige Comcast to provide it access to the interconnects on favourable terms.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union v Novartis

A labour union sued Novartis in putative antitrust class actions that alleged the drugmaker procured patents by fraud and engaged in sham patent litigation to extend its monopoly on a first-in-class blockbuster cancer treatment. Novartis successfully moved to dismiss, arguing that the third-party payors and direct purchaser plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that the company had defrauded the US Patent and Trademark Office, and that a plausible sham patent litigation claim could not be made in a case where the patent had never previously been held invalid or unenforceable. On appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the union’s effort to establish objective baselessness based on its own theory of invalidity, and affirmed the district court’s finding that the complaint did not plausibly allege that Novartis had made material misrepresentations in support of its patent application.

US Futures Exchange v Board of Trade of City of Chicago

The Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange beat a 15-year-old antitrust lawsuit filed by the United States Futures Exchange, alleging that the CBOT monopolised and conspired to monopolise the market for exchange services for US Treasury futures and options on US Treasury futures. Shortly before the June 2018 jury trial was scheduled to begin, with USFE seeking $1.5 billion in trebled damages, Judge Thomas Durkin canceled the trial pending his review and ruling on the parties’ summary judgment motions. In the 31 October written opinion, the federal district court granted CME’s motion for summary judgment, rejected each of USFE’s remaining theories and dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety.

North American Soccer League v US Soccer Federation

The North American Soccer League sued the US Soccer Federation in 2017 for allegedly conspiring with other professional soccer leagues to exclude the North American Soccer League from Division I and Division II professional soccer and to monopolise these markets. The federation defeated the league’s request for a preliminary injunction. Judge Brodie denied the motion, finding US Soccer had put forth evidence that the professional league standards have procompetitive effects, and that the league employs sufficient meaningful safeguards in the standards revision process. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. The underlying case defending against NASL’s claims on the merits is ongoing and will be tried in 2019 or 2020.

General Electric and IATA engine maintenance abuse of dominance dispute

GE Aviation – a subsidiary of General Electric and part of CFM International, a joint venture with Safran Aircraft Engines – successfully resolved its dispute with the International Air Transport Association. As a result of the settlement, IATA withdrew a March 2016 complaint it made to the European Commission that accused CFM of abuse of dominance regarding the terms for engine maintenance and repair. The settlement put an end to a preliminary investigation by the commission into alleged anti-competitive contracts between airlines and CFM. As part of the settlement, code of conduct policies on highly technical issues were put in place. CFM’s new conduct policies, which include a private enforcement mechanism, provide for a trustee to oversee CFM’s operations, ensuring no code violations occur, and provisions permitting airlines and engine overhaul shops to take CFM to arbitration over a violation.

Litigation of the year – Cartel prosecution: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of plaintiffs in a private action for cartel damages.

Vitamin C (Animal Science Products v HeBei Welcome Pharmaceutical)

In June 2018, the US Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favour of Animal Science Products in the long-running price-fixing class action against Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C. The Supreme Court opinion establishes criteria for all US courts and litigants to use when assessing the accuracy of a foreign government’s claims about its laws. Following a jury trial in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York in 2013, the direct purchasers won a $148 million judgment against the Chinese manufacturers. The Chinese manufacturers appealed against the trial verdict to the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit, which reversed on the grounds that the federal courts are “bound to defer” to a foreign government’s interpretation of its own law. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded the Second Circuit ruling, on the grounds that the appeals court “did not consider the shortcomings” of the Chinese government’s representations. The high court set forth criteria and a framework for courts to use when assessing the credibility and weight to give to a foreign government’s expression of its own laws.

Alston v NCAA

College football and basketball players are challenging the legality of the National College Athletic Association’s (NCAA) restraints on compensation before the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Last year, the court denied the NCAA’s motion for summary judgment and granted partial summary judgment in favour of plaintiffs Shawne Alston, a football player for the West Virginia Mountaineers, and former University of California basketball player Justine Hartman. The players sued the NCAA in 2013 and its five power conferences, accusing the association of having rules that restrict player compensation and restrain the market for top-tier college sports talent. In March 2018, the California court sided with the players on key issues related to agreement, anticompetitive effect and relevant markets. A bench trial was held in September 2018, where the burden was on the NCAA to prove that its compensation restraints have offsetting procompetitive effects and where the issues of less restrictive alternatives, such as individual conference autonomy, were considered. The trial decision is pending.

Libor-based financial instruments

An over-the-counter purchasers’ class in the Libor-based financial instruments antitrust litigation alleges that a group of banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate, which allowed the banks to pay unduly low interest rates to purchasers of US dollar-denominated Libor-based financial instruments. In February 2018, Judge Naomi Buchwald granted the certification for their Sherman Act antitrust claims. To date, the class has secured settlements totaling $590 million including with Barclays for $120 million, Citi Bank for $130 million, Deutsche Bank for $240 million and HSBC for $100 million.

Litigation of the year – Non-cartel prosecution: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of plaintiffs in a non-cartel private action.

Walter Merricks v Mastercard

Walter Merricks CBE won the right to appeal against a decision by the Competition Appeal Tribunal that refused to grant a collective proceedings order (CPO) that would have permitted a £14 billion collective action against Mastercard to proceed to trial. Prior to obtaining permission to appeal, there was a threshold issue of whether a right to appeal against such a decision of the tribunal existed as a matter of law. The tribunal’s own guidance expressly stated that there was no right of appeal against a decision refusing a CPO, and it ruled that no such right existed in refusing Merrick’s application for permission to appeal. The case was heard before the England and Wales Court of Appeal comprising three Lord Justices of Appeal, and a unanimous judgment was delivered on 13 November 2018 finding that there is a right of appeal. This was the first time any legal issue regarding the nascent collective action regime was considered by the Court of Appeal, and the judgment is a critical development that will have significant implications for the regime.

Arista Networks v Cisco Systems

The antitrust litigation between Arista Networks and Cisco Systems established for the first time that a copyright lawsuit can be a part of the basis of an antitrust violation. Arista alleged that Cisco encouraged industry-wide adoption of its command-line interface (CLI) – used to configure Ethernet switches – for more than a decade and hit Arista with a copyright infringement suit that claimed its CLI was for Cisco’s exclusive use. Arista accused Cisco of reversing its policy on CLI and engaging in associated intimidation tactics to monopolise the Ethernet switch market. A California court found that Cisco did not just sue for copyright infringement but used the suit in an alleged smear campaign to gain a market advantage. The court’s ruling in May 2018 set the table for an August 2018 eve-of-trial global settlement of all intellectual property and antitrust claims and, more important, set critical law regarding IP and antitrust rights.

Steves & Son v Jeld-Wen

A federal jury in 2018 found that doormaker Jeld-Wen’s acquisition of Craftmaster Manufacturing caused millions of dollars in damages to rival Steves and Sons. The verdict said that when Jeld-Wen – one of the world’s largest door and window makers – bought Craftmaster, the company violated the Clayton Act. The jury awarded Steves and Sons $12 million in past damages and $46.5 million for future harm from the merger. Steves also sought an injunction forcing Jeld-Wen to divest its assets to restore competition to the doorskins and doors markets comparable to that which existed before the anticompetitive 2012 merger. Despite the Department of Justice’s amicus brief questioning whether the extraordinary remedy of divestiture was appropriate here, in October 2018 Judge Robert Payne of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Jeld-Wen to sell its doorskin plant in Towanda, Pennsylvania.

Shuffle Tech International v Scientific Games

In 2012, Scientific Games accused Shuffle Tech International of using Scientific Games’ patented card-shuffling technology without authorisation. Scientific Games provides various casino and gambling services such as electronic gaming machines and table games, while Shuffle Tech designs automatic card shufflers meant for home use. Alongside gaming companies Aces Up Gaming and Poydras-Talrick, Shuffle Tech fired back with an antitrust lawsuit in 2015, claiming that Scientific Games enforced unlawful patents and engaged in sue-and-acquire strategies against any rivals that tried to enter the card-shufflers market. In 2018, a Chicago jury found in favour of the plaintiffs and ordered Scientific Games to pay its competitors $105 million; Judge Matthew Kennelly of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois trebled the amount of actual damages.

Behavioural matter of the year – Americas: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in the Americas.

Maruyasu Industries in Auto Parts

An investigation initiated by the US Department of Justice looking into alleged price-fixing and market allocation of certain automotive parts led to an indictment of Maruyasu Industries, its US subsidiary and four executives. After a successful Brady motion and with a motion to exclude evidence and a motion to vacate the order suspending the statute of limitations pending, the DOJ and Maruyasu reached an extraordinarily lenient plea agreement. In May, Maruyasu Industries pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to rig bids in Japan for steel tubes used in vehicles sold to the US and agreed to pay a $12 million fine. The indictment as to Maruyasu’s US subsidiary and three sales executives was dismissed with prejudice.

Ohio v American Express

The US Supreme Court in June 2018 affirmed the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s unanimous decision in American Express’s favour. The majority of the high court in the 5-4 ruling defined how antitrust law will be applied to two-sided markets. The suit, originally brought by the US Department of Justice and 17 state attorneys general, alleged Amex restrained competition by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to use other cards. While the government won at trial, Amex successfully argued on appeal that the impact of challenged restraints should be considered with respect to consumers, not just merchants, because both must come together through a credit infrastructure to accomplish a transaction. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that anticompetitive evaluations must consider effects on both sides of the market.

US v Usher, Ramchandani and Ashton

Traders Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton were found not guilty in the Foreign Exchange Benchmark antitrust trial, despite one of their alleged co-conspirators testifying against them. The three-week jury trial in New York cleared the defendants of the DOJ’s criminal charges that they conspired to fix prices in the $5 trillion per day foreign exchange market. The jury exonerated defendants after five hours of deliberations. The defence featured the actual, underlying trading data, demonstrating that the defendants’ online chats – the focus of the prosecution’s case – did not represent a fair picture of the independent trading activities of each bank’s currency trader.

CADE probe into enforcement of design patents in auto parts aftermarket (ANFAPE case)

The Association of Independent Auto-parts Producers (ANFAPE) accused Volkswagen, Fiat and Ford of abuse of dominance by imposing their design patents against independent auto parts manufacturers in the aftermarket, to inhibit the production and sale of protected products duplications in the market. Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence investigated for a decade regarding the enforcement of automotive design patents. The probe established the limits of competition law intervention over the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and was largely seen as a landmark case, with potential to shape the intersection of IP rights and antitrust policy in Brazil. Last year, CADE’s tribunal voted 4-3 to close its investigation, finding there was no anticompetitive conduct.

Mexican abuse of dominance in gas market remedies

In 2014, the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) launched an investigation over allegations of abuse of dominance in the distribution and commercialisation of oxygen, nitrogen and argon markets. COFECE made a preliminary determination concluding that the economic agents involved Grupo Infra, Cryoinfra and Praxair Mexico, were most likely abusing their market power by imposing the use of exclusivities in the supply of their products. After the competition authority’s preliminary determination, Grupo Infra, Cryoinfra and Praxair Mexico proposed a series of commitments to restore the process of competition of the market in question, which the Commission determined as suitable and viable for this purpose. The case is considered to be successful because this was the first settlement in an abuse of dominance case with COFECE after Mexico’s constitutional amendment on energy in 2014 to allow agreements with private entities for oil exploration.

CADE settlements in electronic payments market

CADE has been investigating alleged abuse of dominance in the financial services and electronic payments sectors in Brazil since 2015. The probe mainly focuses on vertical integration between financial institutions and electronic payments providers, such as payment schemes and acquirers. In addition to these investigations, CADE and the Brazilian Central Bank signed a cooperation agreement in 2018 and held a joint public hearing to discuss the current structure of the Brazilian market. In September 2018, Banco Bradesco, a private Brazilian financial institution, and Cielo, a credit and debit card operator in Brazil, settled one of the investigations to include behavioural commitments without admitting any antitrust violations. Banco Itaú-Unibanco and Redecard also executed their own settlement agreements, as well as Banco do Brazil, the leading Brazilian state-owned bank.

CADE soda ash cartel probe

CADE closed its investigation over alleged collusion in the soda ash market after eight years without fines.The authority conducted a detailed analysis of the economic effects of the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation’s participation in the Brazilian market and concluded that the joint operation of members through ANSAC allowed for efficiencies that were shared with clients in a competitive environment. This is a groundbreaking decision by CADE, since it represents a shift towards an effects-based approach in relation to horizontal joint-venture agreements among competitors, and an interesting precedent worldwide.

Behavioural matter of the year – Europe: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in Europe.

Bundeskartellamt v Heidemark Masterkreis

Poultry supplier Heidemark Masterkreis successfully challenged before the Dusseldorf Court of Appeals the German enforcer’s 2014 finding that Heidemark participated in the so-called German sausage cartel. In a rare acquittal of an alleged cartel member, the appeals court annulled Heidemark’s €3 million fine and determined the enforcer committed serious procedural violations when it investigated the 22 convicted cartelists. In particular, the court criticised the Bundeskartellamt’s repeated use of dawn raids, and said that the evidence to show Heidemark participated in the cartel was so thin as to be nonexistent. In the same trial, the court increased the fines that the enforcer had imposed on sausage retailer Wiltmann.

Servier v European Commission

In December 2018, the EU’s General Court slashed the pay-for-delay fine imposed by the European Commission on Servier, after the drugmaker claimed the commission incorrectly defined the relevant market in its initial enforcement action. The EU court reduced Servier’s fine from €331 million to €228 million because the enforcer failed to include comparable medications when it analysed Servier’s dominance in the market for heart drug perindopril. Servier also successfully argued that the licence it granted to rival drugmaker Krka was not intended to induce Krka to withdraw from the perindopril market. 

Yandex complaint against Google Android

The European Commission imposed a record-breaking €4.3 billion fine on Google in July 2018 for abusing its dominant position through tying arrangements, exclusivity payments and obstructing the development of competing versions of the Android operating system. Its key theories of harm were based on the complaint filed by the Russian internet company Yandex, which highlighted the “must have” nature of Google Play and Google’s dominance in the market for licensable smartphone operating systems. The Russian company’s intervention followed an earlier complaint by FairSearch, which set out the legal theories that were later addressed by the commission. The enforcer concluded that Google used illegal practices – which included ensuring its search app and its Chrome browser were pre-installed on nearly all Android devices sold in the European Economic Area, and preventing device makers from using alternative, unapproved versions of Android – as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. Google’s appeal at the EU General Court is pending.

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 Asia-Pacific, the Middle East or Africa.

Matrimony’s abuse of dominance complaint against Google in India

Matrimony.com filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India in 2011, alleging that Google abused its dominance in the online search engine sector by prioritising its own search results, encouraging opacity across its ad platform to ensure that bidders place higher bids for ads, forcing parties to enter into unfair agreements and retaliating against those who spoke out. After almost three years of litigation and input from 20 third parties – including the Office of the Registrar of Patents, Trademarks and Designs – the commission found Google abused its dominance in the online search market and fined it €18.5 million in February 2018. The enforcer also ordered Google to add a disclaimer to certain search results and refrain from enforcing restrictive and abusive clauses in its search intermediation agreements. The case is notably similar to the EU’s Google Shopping decision, which the Indian enforcer quoted extensively in its own decision.

Hong Kong Competition Commission v Nutanix, Innovix, BT, SIS and Tech21

The Hong Kong Competition Tribunal’s first ever competition proceedings saw the country’s antitrust enforcer accuse five companies of vertical bid rigging. After conducting its first ever dawn raids in 2017, the Hong Kong Competition Commission alleged that BT Hong Kong, Nutanix, SiS International, Innovix Distribution and Tech21 conspired to file dummy bids during a tender for the installation of a server system by the Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association. In addition to the three-week trial in 2018, Innovix made and won the first-ever interlocutory application before the Competition Tribunal and successfully obtained a third-party discovery order against the complainant. The tribunal’s decision, which is currently pending, is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

Flashlights cartel in India

In August 2016, India’s competition authority conducted dawn raids on dry cell battery manufacturers Indo National, Eveready and Panasonic Energy Company India Limited (PECIN). Eveready and then PECIN filed leniency applications admitting that they exchanged commercially sensitive information with each other and Indo National, which the authority’s Director General relied on to conclude that the companies were involved in a price-fixing cartel. Indo National opposed the director general’s findings, arguing that mere information exchange between competitors was not tantamount to a cartel. It also claimed that the enforcer’s evidence of the alleged cartel was not unequivocal and, in any event, never implemented. During the final hearing, PECIN argued against its own leniency application. The enforcer’s adjudicative body agreed in November 2018 that a mere information exchange without more evidence cannot be considered a cartel, and rejected Eveready and PECIN’s leniency applications. This is the only case to date where the enforcer has rejected leniency applications.

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.

Praxair/Linde

This $80 billion merger of equals brought together two of the world’s four largest gas suppliers in a complex cross-jurisdictional deal, with the European Commission demanding substantial divestitures before giving it the green light. The companies agreed to fully remove their market overlap in Europe, promising to sell off Praxair’s entire gas business in the European Economic Area to third parties. They also agreed to sell Praxair’s stake in the SIAD joint venture, which operates in Italy and central and eastern Europe, to its partner Flow Fin, and sell surplus helium-sourcing contracts beyond those needed to meet European demand. Following the European Commission's approval, China also cleared the deal but with significant structural and behavioural remedies, particularly in the liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen markets. The US Federal Trade Commission required the companies to divest assets in nine industrial gases product markets in numerous geographic markets.

Bayer/Monsanto/BASF

The €62.5 billion acquisition of agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto by pharmaceutical and life sciences giant Bayer was approved by the European Commission in March on the condition that Bayer divest assets worth almost €6 billion. The company agreed to sell off all of its global seed and traits businesses, including research and development capabilities, to chemicals maker BASF. It also agreed to divest the non-selective herbicide Glyphosate and license its digital agricultural products, which deploy agricultural data and algorithms to prescribe seed and pesticide usage, to competitors. The commision also demanded Monsanto divest assets that it deemed a future competitor against a Bayer seed treatment for nematode worms. The deal passed its final hurdle for clearance after the US Department of Justice cleared the deal while requiring $9 billion worth of divestitures, the largest in US history, including to Bayer’s cotton, canola, soybean, vegetable seed business; its Liberty herbicide business; certain intellectual property and research capabilities; and its new digital agriculture business.

AT&T/Time Warner

AT&T’s and Time Warner’s defence against accusations by the DOJ that their US$85.4 billion merger would harm competition and should be blocked has been deemed “the antitrust trial of the century”. After five weeks of testimony, on 12 June 2018, Judge Richard Leon delivered a comprehensive ruling rejecting the government’s claims in their entirety and denying the DOJ’s request to block the merger. The merger closed on 14 June 2018. The decision is currently on appeal.

Ohio v American Express

The US Supreme Court in June 2018 affirmed the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s unanimous decision in American Express’s favour. The majority of the high court in the 5-4 ruling defined how antitrust law will be applied to two-sided markets. The suit, originally brought by the US Department of Justice and 17 state attorneys general, alleged Amex restrained competition by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to use other cards. While the government won at trial, Amex successfully argued on appeal that the impact of challenged restraints should be considered with respect to consumers, not just merchants, because both must come together through a credit infrastructure to accomplish a transaction. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that anticompetitive evaluations must consider effects on both sides of the market.

Luxottica/Essilor

The €40.2 billion merger between eyewear retailer Luxottica and lens maker Essilor required clearance in 20 jurisdictions, including the EU, US, China and Brazil. The combined company is the first global company to operate across all major optical sectors. The EU enforcer considered this when it analysed the deal’s conglomerate effects and the emerging horizontal competition between Essilor and Luxottica, but unconditionally cleared the deal after a Phase II investigation. The US’s FTC also unconditionally cleared the deal after it considered theories of vertical foreclosure affecting independent eye care professionals, potential competition in wholesale laboratory services and the horizontal competition in retail stores. Enforcers in Chile, Singapore and Canada also unconditionally cleared the deal; authorities in China and Turkey approved it subject to behavioural remedies that include prohibiting the merged company from imposing exclusivity conditions on retail stores, and from restricting access to its rivals’ products.

UPS/TNT v European Commission

In January 2019, the European Court of Justice upheld a General Court ruling that found the European Commission unlawfully prohibited a proposed merger between UPS and TNT in 2013. This decision marks the second time that the Court of Justice has ruled to uphold a reversal of merger prohibition, and only the fourth time that an EU merger prohibition has been annulled. In finding the EU enforcer should have permitted the deal, the Court of Justice ruled that a party’s rights of defence extend in full to econometric models. It then went on to determine that the enforcer had violated UPS’s right of defence when it told the company in a statement of objections that it was using one econometric analysis to consider the deal, but actually relied on another without issuing a new statement of objections. In its ruling, the top EU court emphasised the impartiality and quality that econometric analysis can bring to commission decisions, which it said was the “basis of the trust” that the public and businesses place in EU merger control.

UTC/Rockwell Collins

United Technologies announced in September 2017 its intent to acquire Rockwell Collins for $30 billion, and completed its takeover in November 2018. The biggest aerospace deal in history saw UTC become the world’s largest supplier of aerospace equipment and required approval from 12 US, EU, Asian and Latin American antitrust authorities. The deal was unconditionally approved in jurisdictions including Brazil, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Japan and Canada, but faced greater challenges in the US, EU and China. The US and EU enforcers required United Technologies to divest two smaller businesses, while China’s competition authority imposed behavioural conditions that include technological licensing on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and a guarantee of supply to existing Chinese customers.

Enforcement Awards

Government agency of the year: A competition enforcer anywhere in the world whose work in 2018 was particularly effective, strategic or innovative.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The ACCC has a reputation as being deliberate, cautious but typically very successful. Early in 2018, it announced it was investigating Google, Facebook and other online platforms over potential abuses of power in the media advertising market, and by the end of the year it had delivered a globally watched report. It also ended the year by looking into whether Google’s restriction on mobile app developer Unlockd breached its antitrust laws. Away from platforms, it pursued its first gun-jumping court action against two stem cell storage companies. However, its most controversial move may have been its approval of Nine Entertainment’s takeover of rival Fairfax Media, despite stating that the deal will likely lessen competition in the Australian news industry. Its previous work is also still producing results. In April, Air New Zealand became the 14th airline fined by Australia’s Federal Court following the decade-long price-fixing investigation. In October, agency head Rod Sims was confirmed as continuing until August 2022. He is credited with stewarding the authority’s criminal cartel enforcement work, introduced the year before he started, and the strengthening of Australia’s abuse of dominance law.

Canada’s Competition Bureau

2018 saw Canada’s competition authority grapple with the big question of data and competition with the publication of a discussion paper on the topic. It also published a draft practical guide on its treatment of efficiencies in merger reviews and a report on competition in the country’s eyewear industry. The deals it reviewed included Praxair and Linde, Essilor and Luxottica, and Fidelity National Finance’s acquisition of Stewart Information Services. In cartel enforcement, the bureau worked with the country’s public prosecution service to launch updated immunity and leniency programmes. As well as continuing to progress existing cartel investigations, it launched two high-profile new investigations into the newspaper and bread industries. The Supreme Court also refused the Toronto Real Estate Board the right to appeal against the Competition Tribunal’s 2016 order, paving a way for a new law and guidance on big data and innovation.

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Antitrust Division

The Antitrust Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office led the review of the Beth Israel/Lahey Health merger – one of the most significant healthcare deals the state had seen in decades. The antitrust team, led by division chief Will Matlack, and assistant attorneys general Michael McKenzie and Matthew Lyons, negotiated a settlement that allowed the merger to proceed on the condition that the combined entity committed to a seven-year price cap and $71.6 million in financial commitments to support healthcare services for low-income and underserved communities in Massachusetts. The agency also required the merged entity to submit to third-party monitoring to ensure compliance with the settlement terms. The antitrust team worked on the merger review with attorneys from the non-profit organisations/public charities division, and healthcare and fair competition bureau.

Portugal’s Competition Authority

Portugal’s authority had several wins across all areas of competition enforcement in 2018. It carried out dawn raids in three cases and issued four statements of objections, resulting in six final decisions. These included two sanctioning decisions against cartels, and a commitment decision in the postal sector. The enforcer ultimately issued fines of almost €12.4 million. The authority also conducted two in-depth merger probes, including the Altice/Media Capital vertical media merger. The companies ultimately cancelled the deal after the authority raised concerns about the merger foreclosing rival pay platforms’ access to media content. The agency also signed a memorandum on data access with the medicines regulator to help it better detect cartels and finished a joint project with the OECD assessing competition in the transport sector and 13 other professions. It also published further studies on fintech and the Portuguese ports.

Enforcement action of the year: The best decision or enforcement action from a competition authority or court in 2018.

European Commission’s Android decision

In July 2018, the European Commission fined Google €4.3 billion fine for abusing its dominant position through its distribution practices in relation to its Android operating system. The EU enforcer launched its investigation in 2015, and subsequently found that Google was dominant in the markets for general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system. The commission concluded that Google protected its dominant position in the general internet search market through the use of tying arrangements, exclusivity payments and obstructing the development of competing versions of Android. The enforcer said that Google required mobile device makers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome browser if they wished to include Google’s Play Store on Android devices; paid manufacturers and mobile network operators on the condition they exclusively pre-install the Google search app on their devices; and obstructed the development of competing mobile operating systems. Alongside imposing its highest-ever fine, the enforcer required Google to cease its anticompetitive practices within 90 days. Google’s appeal against the decision is currently pending before the EU General Court.

Latvian Supreme Court ruling against the collective copyright management association AKKA/LAA for excessive pricing

In 2013, Latvia’s Competition Council fined copyright management association AKKA/LAA €32,000 for excessive pricing. The Latvian enforcer had investigated the association to compare its Latvian prices with rates set for the performance of musical works in shops and service centres in other EU member states, and found prices in Latvia were higher compared to those in multiple other countries. On appeal, AKKA/LAA argued that the enforcer could not compare prices within Latvia with prices in other EU member states when analysing excessive pricing. In 2017, the European Court of Justice issued a landmark advisory opinion confirming that comparing prices between EU member states is a valid way to determine whether prices may be abusively excessive. Based on this opinion, the Latvian Supreme Court in 2018 concluded the enforcer used the correct analysis when determining AKKA/LAA’s prices were excessive, and upheld the fine. The case provided clarification and guidance regarding excessive pricing, and set a precedent across the EU for enforcers to compare prices among EU member states in their own analyses.

US Federal Trade Commission v Wilhelm Wilhelmsen

The US Federal Trade Commission sued in February 2018 to stop Wilhelmsen Maritime Services’ proposed $400 million acquisition of Drew Marine Group, claiming the deal would harm competition in the market for marine water treatment chemicals and services used by global fleets. The highly publicised trial ended in July 2018 with Judge Tanya Chutkan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordering the companies to maintain their status quo of separation until the commission had completed its administrative proceedings challenging the deal. The next day, Wilhelmsen said it would drop its bid and pay Drew a $20 million termination fee. During the trial, the FTC’s economic expert testified the merger would have caused $14 million to $23 million in harm to purchasers, which the commission said showed “historic” levels of anticompetitiveness. The shipping companies countered that the FTC had drawn an overly narrow market and underestimated the industry’s competitiveness; however, the court sided with the FTC and granted a temporary injunction.

Washington State attorney general challenges no-poach franchise agreements

Washington State’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, launched a probe into franchisors’ no-poach agreements in January 2018. The investigation found that clauses restricting franchisees from hiring each other’s existing workers appear in agreements between franchises and corporate headquarters, which violate the state’s antitrust laws by decreasing competition, reducing opportunities for low-wage workers and stagnating wages. In July, the attorney general announced that fast-food chains Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr, Cinnabon, Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s had made court-enforceable commitments to amend all franchise contracts in Washington state. They agreed to remove the no-poach language within 120 days, to update contracts made in other states when they expire to remove such language, and to refrain from enforcing the no-poach provisions. As of this writing, Ferguson has persuaded 50 franchisors to make such commitments; only one company, Jersey Mike’s, has instead opted to fight the case in court.

Individual Awards

Academic or Advocacy Excellence Award: An academic competition specialist or advocacy organisation that made an outstanding contribution to competition policy in 2018.

Pablo Ibáñez Colomo

Pablo Ibañez Colomo is a full-time professor at the London School of Economics and the College of Europe. He wrote extensively about competition law in 2018 through his books, journals and popular blog Chillin’ Competition. He has recently recommended the need for academic authors to disclose their conflicts of interests and called for EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to adopt a firm stance in the Siemens/Alstom deal. 2018 was Colomo’s first full year as joint general editor of the Journal of European Competition Law & Practice and he also released a new book on the shaping of EU competition law.

Thibault Schrepel

Professor of antitrust law at Utrecht University, Thibault Schrepel in 2018 published the first academic article on blockchain, which looked at whether blockchain could be the death of antitrust. He also published a paper titled “Antitrust Conversations with Nobel Laureates” featuring conversations on antitrust with Nobel-winning economists to understand how useful their work could be to the competition law field.

The Global Antitrust Institute at George Mason University

The Global Antitrust institute authored more than 33 articles, papers, and book chapters, including 14 comments to antitrust agencies in the United States and abroad. These included submitting recommendations on draft laws, regulations, and guidelines to Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Japan on various topics including settlement, cartel leniency, and licensing negotiations involving standard-essential patents. The institute has also been active in fostering global engagement with the antitrust community. In 2018, it co-hosted the FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, the GAI Invitational Moot Court Competition, and the Liber Amicorum of Judge Douglas Ginsburg.

Open Markets Institute

The Open Markets Institute, led by executive director Barry Lynn, has been on the leading edge of exploring the role of monopoly power in the range of challenges facing the US economy. The institute focuses on solutions-orientated research and investigative reporting in an effort to inform anti-monopoly policies at federal, state and local levels. Open Markets institute has also filed several amicus briefs in high-impact cases including AT&T/Time Warner and Six4Three v Facebook.

Economist of the year: A competition economist whose superior technical skill, practical judgement and excellence in client service in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Aviv Nevo

Aviv Nevo is the George A Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss University Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a senior advisor at Cornerstone Research. Nevo was formerly chief economist at the antitrust division at the US Department of Justice and is widely recognised for his work applying sophisticated econometric and merger simulation tools to analyse issues related to competition policy. In 2018, Nevo was retained by 21st Century Fox in a regulatory review of a deal with Walt Disney valued at more than $70 billion. Commercial Metals Company retained him as an expert in its $600 million acquisition of certain assets from Gerdau. In addition, he was the FTC’s economic expert in the enjoined $400 million acquisition of Drew Marine Group by Wilhelmsen Maritime Services, but was opposed to the agency as an expert for Qualcomm.

Fiona Scott Morton

Fiona Scott Morton is the Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics at the Yale University School of Management and senior consultant at Charles River Associates. Her work is at the forefront of issues addressing the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust, focusing on the issue of patent holdup. In 2018, Scott Morton testified on behalf of Arista Networks in its case against Cisco Systems, explaining how Cisco’s alleged reversal of policy harmed competition and consumers. Also in 2018, she testified on behalf of Apple before the International Trade Commission twice, as well as on behalf of the US FTC in the Ottobock and Freedom Innovations matters.

Helen Jenkins

Oxera managing partner Helen Jenkins has led on landmark expert assignments around the world, demonstrating innovative uses of economics while helping grow Oxera into a global firm. In 2018, she advised BritNed in the first follow-on damages action to reach judgment in the UK, which concluded in October with the High Court of England and Wales awarding €13 million in damages to BritNed. Jenkins was the expert for Pfizer during its patent dispute with Sigma Pharmaceuticals, and her evidence led to a significant reduction in the damages quantum – a successful outcome for Pfizer. She also provided expert testimony on behalf of Hong Kong’s Competition Commission during the authority’s first enforcement action to include economic evidence, in a case that will set an important precedent as to how market-sharing and price-fixing agreements are treated under competition law in Hong Kong.

James Mellsop

James Mellsop is a director at NERA Economic Consulting and a highly regarded competition economist with expertise in complex New Zealand competition law issues. He is known for his ability to swiftly and clearly explain relevant economic issues and to present credibly and persuasively to the enforcer and in Court hearings. Mellsop provided economic support to NZME and Fairfax for their appeal to the country’s Court of Appeal to overturn the New Zealand Competition Commission’s decision to decline their merger application. He also provided economic analysis in support of New Zealand’s four major banks – ASB, ANZ, Westpac, and BNZ – in their successful application for the $190 million sale of payment terminal business Paymark to Ingenico. In the transport sector, he provided analysis for Auckland Airport in relation to the authority’s review of its pricing practices, and in the telecoms sector he consulted for Spark in relation to the enforcer’s market study.

Jorge Padilla

Jorge Padilla is senior managing director and head of Compass Lexecon Europe. He worked on almost a dozen antitrust matters around the world in 2018, including the Federal Trade Commission’s case against Qualcomm and the Disney/21st Century Fox merger. He also advised Dutch realtors association NVM and the online real estate portal Funda, which saw off an abuse of dominance claim brought to the courts by a competitor. On top of his consultancy work, Padilla introduced new models, theories, and policy prescriptions at more than a dozen conferences and in several academic articles. In July, he called for new market study powers for European competition authorities to address the enforcement gap in the digital sector left by existing abuse of dominance law. He is also a lecturer at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, the Toulouse School of Economics, and King’s College, London.

Liberty Mncube

Liberty Mncube has been the chief economist at the Competition Commission of South Africa since 2014 and is stepping down from the role early this year. He is associate professor of economics with the School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of Witwatersrand. In 2018, he served as the lead economic expert in the dispute between the enforcer and online ticket seller, Computicket, in which the authority alleged Computicket abused its dominance by entering into exclusive agreements with live entertainment providers. In January 2019, the Competition Tribunal sided with the commission, fining Computicket 20 million rand (€1.27 million). Mncube also provided expert economic testimony in the Imerys/Andalusite Resources merger and was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Drafting Changes to the Competition Act, which helped to develop significant amendments to the country’s competition law.

Subbu Ramanarayanan

Subbu Ramanarayanan is a director in NERA’s antitrust and healthcare practices. He was the lead economist advising five hospital systems in eastern Massachusetts as they formed Beth Israel Lahey Health, which became the second largest healthcare system in Massachusetts with nearly $5 billion in annual revenue. The US FTC unconditionally cleared the deal in November 2018 after a nearly 15-month-long investigation; Ramanarayanan authored multiple submissions to the enforcer and testified during an investigational hearing regarding the deal’s projected efficiencies. In 2018, he also provided economic advice in the Ascension/Presence Health merger, which formed the largest Catholic health system in the US.

Corporate counsel of the year: An in-house competition lawyer whose superior technical skill and practical judgement on behalf of his or her company in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Charlesa Ceres

As the associate general counsel for antitrust and competition law at United Technologies, Charlesa Ceres advised UTC’s acquisition of Rockwell Collins in 2018 valued at $30 billion. UTC and Rockwell Collins are two of the biggest suppliers of aircraft components worldwide. Ceres handled the complex merger review processes in multiple jurisdictions, including the intensive remedy negotiations in the EU, US and China. Eventually, the deal was unconditionally cleared by the vast majority of the relevant authorities worldwide; in the EU, US and China, the remedies imposed were limited.

Paul Fort

Paul Fort’s in-house efforts at Bayer secured the merger approvals for company’s purchase of Monsanto last year. The deal was not only the largest acquisition ever by a German company and the largest all-cash transaction in history; there are also not many other transactions that rival its procedural and substantive complexity. The deal included 29 global merger filings, with multiple filings triggering in-depth investigations. Extensive remedies were required in the EU, US, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. The sale of the divested businesses to German chemicals company BASF for €7.6 billion was itself a complex transaction that required several merger filings globally and follow-on divestments by BASF in the EU. Following an intensive Phase II investigation, in which the European Commission sent 133 requests for information to the parties and the parties ended up submitting millions of internal documents in response, the commission approved the acquisition subject to a fix-it-first/upfront buyer divestment commitment.

Kathleen Dierckx

Kathleen Dierckx is head of Solvay’s competition law practice and has lead its in-house team through several significant transactions over the years. She has coordinated merger filings in several jurisdictions for complex delas such as the PVC joint venture with INEOS, which the European Commission cleared with remedies after a Phase 2 review. Most recently, Dierckx counselled on the sale of Solvay’s nylon business to chemical company BASF, which the commission approved last month subject to Solvay divesting production facilities in France, Poland and Spain.

Jan Lohrberg

Jan Lohrberg is senior competition counsel at Deutsche Telekom and is responsible for assessing antitrust risks and guiding international teams of both internal and external stakeholders in complex competition matters. His peers say he has detailed knowledge of competition law and handles external counsel efficiently and effectively. Over the past year he was part of the team advising Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile on its merger with Tele 2 – a four-to-three deal that the European Commission cleared unconditionally in 2018.

Wolfgang Heckenberger

Wolfgang Heckenberger is a senior competition advisor and former chief counsel for competition at Siemens. He is responsible for advising the company on all aspects of competition law, including its headline-grabbing – and controversial – tie-up with Alstom. That deal received a highly publicised Phase II review from the European Commission, during a wider furore about the importance of creating a European champion to ward off the threat of competition from state-owned Chinese rolling stock company CRC. Before joining Siemens, Heckenberger worked at Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

Maria Cecilia Andrade

Maria Cecília Andrade was asked to join Odebrecht to assist the construction company in navigating multiple investigations launched by competition authorities in Brazil and abroad relating to the so-called Operation Car Wash probe – Brazil's biggest corruption and antitrust investigation. The probe was initiated over allegations of bid rigging and bribery against Brazilian oil company Petrobras, but quickly turned into a Pandora’s box of scandal-ridden bidding contracts in various industry sectors including stadiums and power plants. Since joining Odebrecht in 2016, Andrade has worked intensively to help the company implement its compliance programme. Last year, the company settled six different investigations related to the probe.

Julia Holtz

As the executive director of competition at Visa, Julia Holtz has advised the company on a series of high-profile antitrust challenges. She counselled the company on issues relating to the extra-territorial effect of European competition law on non-European card issuers and the impact of international competition from digital wallets and major US and Chinese competitor schemes such as China UnionPay and AliPay. Following Visa’s successful oral hearing, the European Commission opened new discussions with Visa concerning a potential settlement by means of commitments. She then led the Visa team that successfully negotiated with the commission on the proposed commitments, which were market tested in December 2018. The commitments are unlike anything Visa has negotiated in past cases as they involve a recognition by the commission of different dynamics between face-to-face and e-commerce transactions.

Alexander Lunshof

Alexander Lunshof is Essilor’s group chief legal officer, responsible for overseeing all legal aspects of the company’s industry-changing €48 billion merger with Luxottica. The deal closed in October 2018, after being notified in 20 jurisdictions and receiving in-depth probes in eight, including the EU, US and China. The merging companies obtained unconditional clearance in most jurisdictions and clearance subject to limited remedies in jurisdictions such as China and Turkey. Lunshof, who is also a member of Essilor’s executive committee, led a small dedicated team that succeeded in convincing authorities around the world that the deal did not raise serious issues and structuring creative solutions to secure approval. Prior to joining Essilor, Lunshof was deputy general counsel of Orange.

Litigator of the year: A competition litigator whose superior technical skill, practical judgement and excellence in serving clients in court in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Mark Sansom

In the first follow-on cartel damages claim to reach judgment in the UK, Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer partner Mark Sansom acted for power cables cartelist ABB. Despite ABB’s being the whistleblower on the cartel and being cited in the commission’s infringement decision, the court held that the company did not deliberately overcharge BritNed for the cable. Rejecting BritNed’s claim for €180m in damages, ABB was ordered to pay damages of €11.7m, which was less than ABB’s earlier settlement offer. The judgment is now the leading authority on cartel damages claims in the UK. Sansom also continued to lead on Mastercard’s defence of the Merrick class action before the UK Court of Appeal, which is the first time a proposed UK class action has been scrutinised by the appeal courts. He also led the defence team on several other matters including damages claims in relation to smart card chips, cathode ray tube glass, foreign exchange and capacitors.

Frances Murphy

Morgan Lewis Bockius’s head of the London competition team, Frances Murphy, led the firm in securing two major decisions in 2018. Murphy successfully represented British retailer Sainsbury’s Supermarkets in reversing a UK High Court ruling. There, the Court of Appeal held that Visa and MasterCard had participated in an unlawful restriction of competition with the implementation of interchange or “swipe” fees. Murphy also represented Concordia before the High Court in challenging a search warrant issued by the Competition and Markets Authority and continues to represent the company against eight separate investigations.

Jeffrey Kessler

Winston & Strawn antitrust litigator Jeffrey Kessler secured several major victories for clients in 2018. In the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries litigation, Kessler successfully argued on behalf of Panasonic in denying the indirect purchaser plaintiffs in the final attempt at class certification. He represents a class of college football and basketball players challenging the “amateurism” of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in a case that went to trial in September. Kessler has several clients in the automotive parts antitrust litigation and his team won a denial of class certification for direct purchasers in the court’s first ruling on class certification.

Daniel Wall

Latham & Watkins partner Daniel Wall defended Apple before the US Supreme Court in November from a lawsuit seeking the right to challenge the company’s App Store pricing. Wall successfully defended American Airlines against claims of an antitrust conspiracy after convincing the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the plaintiffs’ allegations amounted to “conscious parallelism”. He represented rock musician Ozzy Osbourne in an antitrust challenge to the alleged “block booking” practices of Anschutz Entertainment Group. After a judge denied AEG’s motion to dismiss, AEG said it would end the policy.

Evan Chesler

Cravath Swaine & Moore partner Evan Chesler won American Express a landmark victory before the US Supreme Court last summer, defeating an appeal brought by a coalition of states challenging the credit card company’s provisions aimed at limiting merchants’ options for accepting payments. MasterCard and Visa had determined it better to settle against the claims brought by the Department of Justice. Chesler also represents certain BlueCross BlueShield Association members against a class action and Qualcomm in several matters including challenges brought by the Federal Trade Commission and Apple.

Hollis Salzman

Robins Kaplan partner Hollis Salzman helped recover more than $150 million in settlements for purchasers in the automotive parts antitrust investigation. She acted as co-lead counsel in antitrust litigation against manufacturers in the contact lens market, leading to a settlement with one manufacturer in February and earned class certification for a class of direct purchasers in December.

Rachel Adcox

Axinn Veltrop Harkrider partner Rachel Adcox secued a pre-discovery dismissal for Friedrich Boysen in the automotive parts antitrust litigation. She leads the defence of Tyson Foods against two treble-damage class action lawsuits alleging an industry-wide conspiracy to raise prices of broiler chickens and pork. She also consults for an undisclosed client regarding the cathode ray tube and lithium-ion batteries cartel investigations, and is co-lead counsel for Independence Blue Cross as it battles a market allocation lawsuit.

Mark Gidley

White & Case global antitrust chair Mark Gidley represented one of the defendants accused by the Department of Justice of fixing prices for foreign currency exchange rates. Gidley successfully worked to clear the former JP Morgan Chase currency trader Richard Usher of the charges following a three-week trial. He also secured a victory for Allergan, after the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overruled a decision granting class certification to plaintiffs challenging an alleged pay-for-delay deal regarding the generic for the drug Asacol. The decision could have a significant impact on barring the use of post-trial affidavits as a substitute for fact-finding by juries.

Dealmaker of the year: A lawyer whose superior knowledge, practical judgement and negotiation skills in merger clearance matters in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Barbara Rosenberg

Barbosa Müssnich & Aragão partner Barbara Rosenberg is well-known for her expertise in merger reviews and regularly advises domestic and international clients under investigation from Brazil’s competition enforcer. She led the way on merger filings for high-profile deals including Suzano/Fibria, Itaú Unibanco/XP, Essilor/Luxottica, Linde/Praxair. Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence cleared the Essilor/Luxottica deal unconditionally in 2018 and approved Linde/Praxair subject to divestment remedies.

Clifford Aronson

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner Clifford Aronson had another stellar year, leading the Skadden team representing Express Scripts in obtaining unconditional clearance from the DOJ for its $69 billion acquisition by Cigna after a six-month investigation into the potential competitive effects of the merger. He advised Rockwell Collins in its €30 billion acquisition by United Technologies, which was the biggest aerospace deal in history. He also led the team in advising 21st Century Fox on its proposed acquisition by the Walt Disney Company and in its unsolicited acquisition bid by Comcast.

Steven Holley

Sullivan & Cromwell partner Steven Holley simultaneously led the antitrust teams advising Bayer in its acquisition of Monsanto, and Praxair in its $80 billion merger with Linde. He persuaded the US Department of Justice to clear the Bayer/Monsanto deal, which combined two of the world’s largest agricultural input suppliers, with a “fix-it-first” divestment remedy. The US Federal Trade Commission also cleared the Linde/Praxair deal subject to remedies, with Holley putting together a series of divestitures in more than 20 jurisdictions that involved more than $6 billion in assets.

Antonio Bavasso

Co-head of Allen & Overy’s global antitrust practice, Antonio Bavasso led the team on two of the year’s biggest deals: 21st Century Fox’s £27.7 billion takeover bid for Sky and 21st Century Fox’s ongoing $71 billion sale to The Walt Disney Company. The Sky deal involved regulatory issues as well as a public interest test. Bavasso and the team secured approval of the bid via a remedies process involving the disposal of Sky News to Disney. In the Disney deal, Bavasso is advising on complex non-US merger control and regulatory issues, with 16 global clearances secured to date. He also represented global investment company Mubadala on the sale of its interests in EMI Music Publishing to Sony, obtaining clearances, despite vocal opposition, in numerous jurisdictions worldwide.

Matthew Reilly

Kirkland & Ellis partner Matthew Reilly’s 2018 highlights include representing Spectrum Brands in the $2 billion sale of its battery and lighting products business to Energizer. He also represented education services company Strayer Education in its merger with rival educational services company Capella Education Company. Reilly also represents the owner of Staples, Sycamore Partners, in its acquisition of office supply wholesaler Essendant. The US Federal Trade Commission approved the deal at the end of January subject to remedies requiring the companies to wall off the office supply retailer from access to the office supply wholesaler’s sensitive information.

Peter Armitage

Ashurst partner Peter Armitage was once again instructed to work on some of the most significant deals in Australia in 2018. He represented Nine Entertainment in securing unconditional Australia Competition Consumer Commission clearance for its merger with Fairfax Media, which created Australia’s largest integrated media company. The deal was the first media merger Australia’s enforcer reviewed following amendments to the country’s media control cross-ownership rules. Armitage also represents rail operator Aurizon in the ACCC’s public review of the proposed sale of Aurizon’s Acacia ridge terminal and Queensland freight transport business to Pacific National.

Mary Lehner

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Mary Lehner had a successful 2018 guiding several high-stakes multijurisdictional deals, bringing a mix of government and private practice experience to the table. She advised Starbucks on its licence to give Nestlé the exclusive right to sell Starbucks products through consumer-packaged goods and foodservice channels. In the transportation sector, Lehner advised Enterprise Holdings on potential transactions, and United Airlines in its joint business agreement with Copa and Avianca, covering routes between the US and Central and South America. She also represented pulp and paper company Suzano Papel e Celulose in its global acquisition of Fibria Celulose, including helping the client avoid a second request in the US, in a transaction that created a world leader in pulp and paper and Brazil’s largest agribusiness.

Jenine Hulsmann

London-based Clifford Chance partner Jenine Hulsmann specialises in competition law and regulation, with a particular focus on TMT, energy and infrastructure. In one of the year’s biggest deals, she guided Tele 2 through the European Commission’s Phase II unconditional clearance of its merger with T-Mobile Netherlands, despite the deal leaving only three mobile network operators in the national market. Hulsmann also advises NBCUniversal in the European Commission’s probe into cross-border restrictions on pay TV. NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros offered commitments in December not to enforce geoblocking provisions in contracts with broadcaster Sky UK. Hulsmann advises global private markets investment manager Partners Group on the acquisition of leading power transmission belt manufacturer Megadyne Group.

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 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Alfonso Lamadrid

Garrigues partner Alfonso Lamadrid is one of the most experienced litigators in the competition field and has intervened in several competition or state aid proceedings before EU Courts. He currently co-represents Google in its appeal before the European General Court against the European Commission’s record €4.34 billion fine for imposing restrictions on mobile network operators and Android device makers. He also represents the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, a team of independent UK TV and film producers, in the European Commission's pay-TV investigation examining allegedly anticompetitive geoblocking licensing agreements between Sky UK and six US film studios. In December, three US film studios have promised not to enforce geoblocking provisions in their contracts with broadcaster Sky UK, in an attempt to end the European Commission’s probe.

Johan Van Acker

Van Bael & Bellis partner Johan Van Acker had an impressive track record in 2018, acting as lead merger control counsel for several major multinationals. He advised the main complainant against the $58 billion Essilor/Luxottica deal, heading up a team of six competition lawyers. The EU took the deal to Phase II, while China and Turkey imposed behavioural remedies on a deal for the first time in a conglomerate merger case. Van Acker also acted as lead global merger control counsel for several multibillion-dollar investment funds in the Chinese merger filing creating a major investment vehicle.

Creighton Macy

Baker McKenzie partner Creighton Macy has represented clients in a wide range of industries including software, media, financial services, pharmaceuticals and transportation. He joined the firm in 2017 after serving as senior counsel and chief of staff to Renata Hesse in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. His peers laud his strong technical skills, and his experiences at the DOJ and in private practice allow him to analyse issues from a variety of perspectives. He represents domestic and international clients before the DOJ and FTC in notable merger and criminal investigations. He has also served as the antitrust lead for several deals that required merger clearance in numerous jurisdictions.

Brianne Kucerik

Partner Brianne Kucerik at Weil Gotshal & Manges has developed expertise in an array of significant global merger reviews and has established herself as an emerging leader of the antitrust bar. In 2018, she represented Scripps Network Interactive in its $14.6 billion merger deal with Discovery Communications. The deal received unconditional clearance following a US Department of Justice extended investigation. Kucerik also represented pharmaceutical company Allergan in the sale of its US medical dermatology portfolio to Almirall in a deal worth up to $650 million. She is currently defending Hilton in multiple actions filed against the company and other major hotel chains alleging the defendant hotel companies conspired to eliminate competition for branded keyword search advertising.

Alyssa Phillips

Ashurst partner Alyssa Philips worked on several high-profile matters in 2018. She represented Cleanaway Waste Management in securing unconditional ACCC clearance for the acquisition of Toxfree in a deal, which combined two of the largest waste management companies in Australia. Phillips also represented Mitsui & Co in securing Chinese merger clearance for its acquisition of an interest in Indonesian company FKS Food & Agri. She was also Australian counsel for Thales in its acquisition of Gemalto, which the ACCC cleared subject to divestment remedies.

William Turtle

Slaughter & May partner William Turtle has extensive experience on a wide range of competition and regulatory matters. He advises Tata Steel on its joint venture with Thyssenkrupp, which will create a leading global steel producer; the European Commission is conducting a Phase II review of the tie-up. He also advised Vodafone on its Netherlands joint venture with Liberty Global, which the European Commission conditionally cleared in a Phase I review. On the litigation front, Turtle represents Deutsche Bank in several multi-jurisdictional investigations into interbank offered rates.

Carlos Mena Labarthe

Carlos Mena Labarthe co-heads the investigations practice at Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez. In 2018 he led the Daimay-Motus pre-merger filing and represented clients in the soft tissue cartel case in various Latin American jurisdictions. He is also involved in Mexico Federal Economic Competition Commission probes into electronic payment platforms and liquid petroleum gas while also advising leading fintech companies advocating for more competition in the financial industry.

Ricardo Casanova Motta

Ricardo Casanova Motta has been a partner at Grinberg e Cordovil for three years and is described by his peers as “truly exceptional”. He has represented big-name clients, including investment bank JP Morgan in connection with a probe by Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence into foreign exchange markets. He specialises in cases involving intellectual property and antitrust and is advised Google on three CADE investigations: scraping, AdWords and Shopping. In November, Brazil’s antitrust enforcer recommended its decision-making body close its investigation into Google over allegations it favoured its own shopping service in search results. CADE also found Google’s alleged scraping caused no harm to consumers and recommended that investigations be closed too.

Lawyer of the year: A competition lawyer of any age whose superior skill, practical judgement and excellence in client service in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field.

Scott Sher

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Scott Sher worked on more than 25 deals in 2018 as well as close to half a dozen conduct probes, representing several major technology companies. Headline-grabbing multi-jurisdictional cases he worked on included Qualcomm’s successful defence against Broadcom’s attempted hostile takeover. Scott is known by many as a kind mentor and has helped to lead the American Bar Association’s annual merger workshop.

Brian Facey

Brian Facey chairs the elite competition group at Blake Cassels & Graydon. He routinely represents clients in complex and high-value mergers and recently steered the Canadian review process for Essilor/Luxottica; Praxair/Linde; Superior Plus/Canwest Propane; Pembina Pipeline/Veresen; Agrium/PotashCorp; and Bell Canada/MTS. He also maintains an active behavioural practice, advising the Toronto Real Estate Board in its application to the Supreme Court of Canada, and one of the defendants in the alleged bread cartel matter. He previously chaired the Canadian Bar Association’s Competition Law Section and is active in the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law.

Leonor Cordovil

Leonor Cordovil is a partner at Grinberg e Cordovil Advogados. She is highly regarded by her peers in Brazil, both in and outside of the country’s competition bar. She has represented Google in three domestic probes, including the Shopping case. She also recently advised Fox in its acquisition by Disney and secured leniency for a company in the Brazilian subway cartel case. Other major clients include Visa and Siemens.

Michael Hausfeld

Hausfeld’s chairman was at the helm of numerous high-profile US antitrust cases in 2018. He currently serves as co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in a suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), who allege the health insurer operates as an illegal association of competitors. The plaintiffs were granted partial summary judgment in April 2018, which declared that agreements among BCBS entities across the US to allocate markets and limit competition are per se antitrust violations. He also represented plaintiffs in the Forex probe, leading settlement negotiations that culminated in August 2018 in the final approval of 15 settlements totalling over $2.3 billion – one of the largest antitrust settlements ever achieved. Michael represents direct purchaser plaintiffs in the Vitamin C litigation, the first antitrust case in the US against Chinese manufacturers. The US Supreme Court held in 2018 that a foreign government’s interpretation of its own law is not binding on US courts – a landmark victory for the Vitamin C plaintiffs and important precedent in any transnational litigation involving interpretations of foreign law and international comity principles.

Claire Jeffs

Claire Jeffs, a partner in Slaughter and May’s London and Brussels offices and winner of GCR’s 2017 Dealmaker of the Year award, has continued to lead on high-profile merger cases before competition authorities worldwide. She currently advises Vodafone on its €18.4 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s German and Eastern European cable networks, which is under Phase II review at the European Commission. In 2018, she also advised Shire on its €52 billion takeover by Takeda – conditionally cleared by the EU in November – and Synnex on its successful €2.5 billion acquisition of Convergys. Jeffs is involved in equally notable cases on the behavioural side; she advised Google during the European Commission’s AdSense probe and assisted a telecoms operator during the EU enforcer’s investigation into a novel Czech mobile network-sharing agreement.

Steven Sunshine

Steven Sunshine is a global antitrust and competition lawyer at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom with 30 years of experience of representing clients through every aspect of antitrust law – contested mergers, bet-the-company litigation and industry-altering government enforcement. He steered clients through more than $300 billion worth of mergers, including Intel, Sprint and Yahoo! in the innovative tech sector; Cardinal Health and Juno Therapeutics in healthcare; and Embraer in aerospace and defence. Acting for AB InBev, he secured complete dismissal of federal antitrust claims alleging the company conspired with Molson Coors Brewing to exclude American breweries from Ontario’s beer market. He also remains at the forefront of pharmaceutical antitrust, including securing a denial of class certification in an action brought against Actavis concerning a patent litigation settlement.

Antoine Winckler

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton partner Antoine Winckler is one of the EU’s leading antitrust lawyers, focusing on all aspects of European and French competition law. In 2018, he advised Alstom on its controversial €15 billion merger with Siemens’ mobility business, which the European Commission sent to Phase II in July. He also acted for French aerospace company Thales in its €4.6 billion acquisition of Gemalto, which the enforcer also took to Phase II and then conditionally approved in December. In cartel defence, Winkler acted for Autoliv in the commission’s automotive occupant safety systems cartel probe. Following a leniency application, the company secured a 50% fine reduction, followed by a further 10% reduction under the settlement notice. Winckler also provided counsel to Google in two abuse of dominance cases before France’s Competition Authority, as well as to Whirlpool in the national agency’s white goods sector investigation.

Firm Awards

Regional firm of the year – Americas: A firm based solely in North, South and Central America that has had an outstandingly successful 2018 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.

Blake Cassels & Graydon

In 2018, Blake Cassels & Graydon helped to steer several important and precedent-setting deals past Canada’s Competition Bureau – be they contentious international mergers that were cleared without remedies; cross-border deals that required extensive cooperation between regulatory agencies in multiple jurisdictions; completed mergers where the parties deployed Canada’s efficiencies defence; or challenging domestic mergers. These included Essilor’s €48 billion combination with Luxottica; Praxair’s US$33.9 billion merger with Linde; Kinder Morgan Canada’s C$4.5 billion sale of the Trans Mountain Pipeline System and Trans Mountain Expansion Project to the government of Canada; Nevsun Resources’ C$1.8 billion sale to Zijin Mining Group; and Novolex’s US$2.3 billion acquisition of the Waddington Group from Newell Brands.

Cravath Swaine & Moore

Cravath Swaine & Moore had a busy 2018, working on a portfolio of major cases that puts several of its rivals in the shade. It successfully defeated two of the most important US government antitrust challenges in recent history and advised on 16 proposed, completed or terminated deals worth more than $300 billion. It represented American Express before the US Supreme Court, which vindicated the company’s business model and defined how antitrust laws will be applied in two-sided markets. The firm also handled US merger clearance for Time Warner’s $109 billion sale to AT&T, winning a six-week trial against the US Department of Justice in a lawsuit seeking to block the sale, which was the government's first challenge to a vertical merger in nearly four decades. The firm also represented Qualcomm in several challenges to its business practices, including foreign authority competition proceedings and litigation filed by Apple, and in a trial against the US Federal Trade Commission. Other notable work included representing certain BlueCross BlueShield Association members in multidistrict litigation concerning price fixing; Alcon in over 50 putative class actions concerning unilateral pricing policies; Mylan in actions concerning alleged reverse-payment settlement agreements; and Morgan Stanley in litigation alleging antitrust violations concerning interest rate swaps, credit default swaps and stock loan trading.

Creel García-Cuéllar Aiza y Enríquez

The firm has the largest competition practice in Mexico with close to two dozen lawyers devoted 100% to competition matters. The team has advised clients in several important mergers, including AT&T on its acquisition of Time Warner. It was also co-counsel to Luxottica and Essilor in their merger; counsel to Linde in its tie-up with Praxair; counsel to Alstom in its merger with Siemens; and counsel to Merck in the sale of its consumer health business to Procter & Gamble. The team is acting in several high-profile investigations initiated by Mexico’s competition authority, including probes into electronic platforms, air transportation studies and blood banks.

Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados

Mattos Filho enjoyed a successful year in 2018. The competition practice represented clients in 20% of all long-form filings submitted to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence, several of which concerned highly complex domestic and global matters. It helped online investment platform XP Investimentos secure clearance for investment by Brazil’s largest financial conglomerate, Itaú Unibanco. It also helped the South African media group Naspers obtain unconditional clearance to complete its investment in Delivery Hero, which resulted in the combination of the two largest online food delivery platforms in Brazil. The firm also guided Syngenta’s acquisition of Nidera Seeds; advised Kroton Educacional on its purchase of SOMOS; and represented Brazilian pulp producer Fibria Celulose in its merger with rival Suzano Papel e Celulose, which created the largest pulp supplier in the world. Behavioural work included securing an important victory for Fiat in the lawsuit filed by the National Association of Auto Parts Manufacturers (Anfape) and helping WEG settle an investigation into an alleged cartel in the market for marketing energy transmission and distribution products.

Pinheiro Neto Advogados

Pinheiro Neto Advogados’ competition group was involved not only in various important merger cases this year, but also in many cartel and unilateral conduct investigations before CADE’s General Superintendence. The firm obtained CADE’s approval for Votorantim to sell its long steel business to ArcelorMittal, and advised BASF and Solenis International on the Brazilian antitrust filing of a worldwide joint venture of their chemical businesses. Pinheiro Neto also assisted car part maker Bosch in a settlement agreement executed with CADE in the market for filters – particularly noteworthy because it contained horizontal and vertical aspects that had to be distinguished. The firm also helped a Brazilian stock exchange operator reach a settlement with CADE after the enforcer alleged B3 refused to allow competitors to access its central depository system.

Robins Kaplan

One of the highlights for Robins Kaplan in 2018 was reaching a US$6.26 billion settlement for plaintiffs against Visa and Mastercard. The settlement concluded more than a decade of litigation over an innovative theory that the organisational structure of Visa and Mastercard and the voluminous rules they require retailers to follow were anticompetitive in nature. The firm also recovered more than $150 million in settlements for purchasers of cartelised auto parts; and defended grocery wholesaler Supervalu against a string of antitrust class actions seeking over $500 million in damages, culminating in the denial of class certification and a summary judgment victory.

Stikeman Elliott

Stikeman Elliott houses one of Canada’s leading competition practices. The team advised clients in four of the 10 in-depth reviews launched by the Competition Bureau in the most recent fiscal year and in eight of the 15 mergers where the enforcer issued a position statement. Important recent deals included Bayer/Monsanto, Airbus/Bombardier, United Technologies/Rockwell Collins, Wabtec/GE Transportation, Fidelity National/Stewart, MedReleaf/Aurora Cannabis and Starbucks/Nestlé. The team has a wide-ranging competition litigation practice, which represents clients in major cartel investigations and civil litigation, including the bread price-fixing inquiry; the criminal inquiry into Postmedia; the Competition Tribunal case regarding Hudson’s Bay Company’s advertising practices; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in interchange fee class actions; and for Air Canada in the cargo air freight shipping matter.

TozziniFreire Advogados

TozziniFreire has one of the largest antitrust practices in Latin America. Approximately 20% of the leniency agreements signed by CADE were negotiated by TozziniFreire. The competition team also works closely with the firm's top-tier compliance and white-collar practices, especially in face of the large wave of bid-rigging investigations running in parallel by the criminal, anti-corruption and antitrust enforcers. TozziniFreire represented ABB in the gas-insulated switchgear international cartel investigation and Decolar.com in a preliminary probe opened by CADE after receiving a complaint that it hindered competition by requiring hotels to comply with parity clauses when offering accommodation on other websites. The firm also assisted Luxottica in its merger with eyewear product maker Essilor.

Regional firm of the year – Europe: A firm based solely in Europe that has had an outstandingly successful 2018 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.

Garrigues

While it maintains its core identity as a Spanish firm, Garrigues’ office in Brussels has helped it develop a reputation as a truly international competition practice, which is trusted by a wide range of high-profile clients. Perhaps the biggest client is Google – which the firm is representing in its appeal against the European Commission’s €4.3 billion Android fine. The team also successfully represented Rolex in the luxury watch repairer’s case and acted for the UK Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television in the authority’s pay-TV investigation. In mergers, the firm advised shipping company Naviera Armas in its acquisition of Transmediterránea, securing Phase I approval subject to conditions. The firm’s state aid practice also has a strong reputation. It successfully took the commission to court on behalf of the Swedish Shipowners Association, challenging the agency’s decision that no state aid had been granted to shipping company Fred Olsen.

Gleiss Lutz

German firm Gleiss Lutz has the oldest competition practice in Brussels, which was established in 1962. The firm has traditionally focused on the automotive industry, so it is no surprise that the Brussels team coordinated Daimler’s defence against a raft of damage claims following the European Commission’s truck cartel decision. The team is also acting for the company in the EU enforcer’s new investigation into alleged collusion in the development of emission-cleaning technology. In other industries, it is acting for metal manufacturer VDM, which is being acquired by Aperam in a €438 million deal that the commission took to Phase II last November. In Germany, the firm is acting for Sky Deutschland, which the national enforcer is investigating for agreeing with another company to divide up Champions League football broadcast rights. The firm also runs a highly regarded state aid practice, which recently secured the annulment of a commission recovery order related to the Bavarian dairy industry.

Hengeler Mueller

Between it’s German and Brussels offices, Hengeler Mueller has experienced a busy year. It’s merger work includes advising Carl Zeiss Vision as an intervening third party in the Essilor/Luxottica deal; and Siemens on its batteries storage systems joint venture with AES. While deals have traditionally been the firm’s strength, its conduct and litigation work has recently taken off too. The team continues to defend MAN – which was the leniency applicant in the commission’s truck cartel probe – against follow-on damages claims. The firm is also representing British Airways in Deutsche Bahn’s air cargo follow-on damages claim; and sugar maker Nordzucker in more than 70 pending damages claims following-on from the €280 million fines imposed by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office on three sugar manufacturers for dividing the market. As part of the ”best friend” alliance of firms, it cooperates with Slaughter and May, BonelliErede, Bredin Prat, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and Uría Menéndez.

Euclid Law

The Brussels and London-based competition boutique continued its growth in 2018 with the addition of Philip Lux as a partner. It is advising O2 in the European Commission’s investigation into network-sharing agreements in the Czech Republic and it also represented Unlockd in its litigation against Google, accusing the Android maker of abusing its dominance by threatening to remove Unlockd’s software from its Play app store.


Regional firm of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa: A firm based solely in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa that has had an outstandingly successful 2018 in terms of the quality and quantity of its competition work.

Allen & Gledhill

Allen & Gledhill is home to one of the largest and most experienced competition practices in Singapore and the wider region of Southeast Asia. The firm acted for Grab in its merger with Uber, which was reviewed by enforcers across the region, including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The firm advised the company on commitments proposed to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore. The firm also advised aluminum manufacturer Rubycon Singapore in the Singaporean enforcer’s global capacitor cartel probe, securing the company a 50% reduction in fines.

MinterEllison

MinterEllison has recently handled a significant volume of large, complex domestic and international merger clearances in Australia. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer instructed the firm as external local counsel to handle the Australian aspects of the high-profile Siemens/Alstom deal, while the team also advised on the Arrow/Apotex deal and on oOh!media's acquisition of Adshel. The firm was tapped to advise Cryosite in Australia’s first gun-jumping court case, after the biotechnology company was accused of unlawfully redirecting its customer service inquiries to stem-cell storage rival Cell Care before its acquisition of the company had closed. In cartel work, the firm advised a senior executive who was charged in the high-profile criminal cartel prosecution against ANZ, Citibank and Deutsche Bank. The firm also represented Australian tech startup Unlockd in proceedings against Google for misuse of market power. Unlockd successfully obtained an interim injunction against Googe as part of the first case to rely on new Australian market power prohibitions.

Rajah & Tann

Rajah & Tann boasts one of the most vibrant competition practices in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. Over the past year, the team has dealt with some of the most high-profile cases in the region, be it in investigations or merger control. In Singapore, the team handled notifications for Essilor/Luxottica and Drew Marine/Wilhelmsen Maritime Services. In Indonesia, the team worked on the Nissan Motor/Mitsubishi Motors merger. The firm also obtained clearance for the ORIX Aviation Systems/Avolon Holdings merger in the Philippines.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh's competition partners Sarah Keene and Troy Pilkington are both highly regarded in New Zealand, having acted on many of the country’s most high-profile competition cases. The firm represented New Zealand’s two major news publishers, NZME and Fairfax, in their appeal to the Court of Appeal against a decision to reject their merger by the New Zealand Competition Commission. The firm also acted for the country’s four major banks – ASB, ANZ, Westpac and BNZ – in obtaining clearance for the $190 million sale of payment terminal business Paymark to Ingenico. Also in the banking sector, the firm acted for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in its A$3.8 billion sale of Sovereign life insurance to competitor AIA. In other industries, the firm obtained two clearances for three-to-two deals – one for a tie-up between yoghurt brands Goodman Fielder and Lion, and the other between MDF producers Daiken and Dongwha.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas enjoyed a busy year across all areas of competition law. It secured a 100% penalty waiver for Globecast Asia in a cartel in the sports broadcasting services market. It also represented Vodafone India in its successful jurisdiction challenge before the Supreme Court against an order by the Competition of Commission India. The court held that the competition enforcer must wait for a sector regulator to finish investigating similar conduct before it can start its own probe. The firm also helped steer Bayer/Monsanto and Linde/Praxair through Phase II probes and secured Phase I clearance for the Siemens/Alstom deal.

Yulchon

Yulchon houses one of the most talented competition groups in Korea. It handled several complex merger control matters over the past year, advising Praxair on its $90 billion merger with Linde; and chemical company BASF as the buyer of assets divested as a result of the Bayer/Monsanto deal. The firm also defended several global clients from cartel probes by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission. It represented Schaeffler in the authority’s ball bearings cartel investigation and convinced the enforcer to close a cartel probe against global banks.

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