Hong Kong: The Handbook of Competition Enforcement Agencies
Hong Kong
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Hong Kong: The Handbook of Competition Enforcement Agencies

Hong Kong: The Handbook of Competition Enforcement Agencies

Hong Kong

From the Enforcer: Hong Kong

Competition Commission
Address:
19/F South Island Place, 8 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3462 2118
Fax: +852 2522 4997
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.compcomm.hk

Contacts

image-20201215113406-2
Rasul Butt
Senior Executive Director
Tel: +852 3952 0898
Email: [email protected]

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Jindrich Kloub
Executive Director (Operations)
Tel: +852 3952 0828
Email: [email protected]

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Steven Parker
Executive Director (Legal Services)
Tel: +852 3952 0889
Email: [email protected]

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

Mr Samuel Chan, Chairman, was appointed in May 2020 on a two-year term.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

The Chairman’s current term will end on 30 April 2022.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

The Commission Chairman and Members are appointed by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The agency received about HK$160 million of subvention from the government for its operation in 2019–2020.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

As of July 2020, 66.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The Chairman reports to the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

The Communications Authority shares jurisdiction with the Competition Commission in relation to the conduct of licensees under the Telecommunications Ordinance and Broadcasting Ordinance of Hong Kong.

If so, how do these relate to your agency’s role?

The Communications Authority and Competition Commission have signed a memorandum of understanding for coordinating the performance of their respective roles under their concurrent jurisdiction.

May politicians overrule or disregard authority’s decisions? If they have ever exercised this right, describe the most recent example.

Politicians do not have any right to overrule or disregard the Competition Commission’s decisions.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when your agency takes decisions?

No.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this? Has any competition decision by the agency been overturned?

To prove a contravention of the Competition Ordinance, the Competition Commission must take proceedings in the Competition Tribunal. The Competition Commission is also empowered to issue decisions itself, including on applications from businesses as to whether or not the exclusions or exemptions in the Competition Ordinance apply. Many of these decisions are also reviewable by the Competition Tribunal.

As of August 2020, the Competition Commission has made three decisions, which are in relation to certain liner shipping agreements, the industry code of conduct applicable to retail banking and a proposed pharmaceutical sales survey. The 30-day period for bringing a review of these decisions has expired and no application for a review has been made.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

No. (Note: the merger rule applies only to undertakings in the telecommunications sector; see further below.)

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

No. (Note: the merger rule applies only to undertakings in the telecommunications sector; see further below.)

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

Since the full implementation of the Competition Ordinance on 14 December 2015 and up to August 2020, the Communications Authority has looked into several transactions under the Merger Rule. No further actions were taken to these transactions, except for one concerning an acquisition in the fixed telecommunications service market, in which the Communications Authority accepted commitments offered by the merging parties and did not commence an investigation into the transaction.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

The Competition Commission has power to take action against companies outside Hong Kong for cartel offences involving conduct that has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Hong Kong, but so far has not completed any cartel cases against companies based in another jurisdiction.

Do you operate an immunity and leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact? What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigations?

The Competition Ordinance provides for leniency agreements. Under the Competition Commission’s cartel leniency programme, the Competition Commission will agree not to bring proceedings in the Competition Tribunal against the first cartel member (undertaking or individual) who reports the cartel conduct to the Competition Commission and meets all the requirements for receiving leniency under the programme. Potential applicants should call the Competition Commission’s Leniency Hotline at +852 3996 8010.

Undertakings which do not benefit from leniency under the Commission’s leniency programme can opt to cooperate with the Commission’s investigation pursuant to its Cooperation and Settlement Policy. In return, the Commission will offer a discount of up to 50% off the pecuniary penalty it would otherwise recommend to the Competition Tribunal. A Leniency Plus programme is also available, under which companies that cooperate with the Commission in a cartel investigation and come first to disclose the existence of another cartel can receive an additional discount of up to 10% off the recommended pecuniary penalty for the first cartel.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it? Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

There is no criminal enforcement track. Under the Competition Ordinance, the Competition Commission is the only body that has the right to investigate the alleged contravention, and is the only body that can take first instance actions in the Competition Tribunal.

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

The Competition Commission is working with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government on the review of the Competition Ordinance and it is for the government to decide on the scope and timeline of the review.

When did the last review of the law occur?

Not applicable.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so, please give details.

The Competition Commission has an Economics Department.

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

Yes.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company? If yes, please provide the most recent instances.

Not to date, but the Competition Ordinance permits the Competition Commission to seek the imposition of pecuniary penalties against persons involved in a contravention as well as disqualification of a director of a company that contravenes the Competition Ordinance.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

There is no cross-sector merger control regime in Hong Kong. As indicated previously, the merger rule in the Competition Ordinance only applies where an undertaking that directly or indirectly holds a ‘carrier licence’ within the meaning of the Telecommunications Ordinance is involved in a merger. For such mergers, there are no pre-merger notification thresholds.

Are there any restrictions on investments that involve less than a majority stake in the business?

There are no specific restrictions on investments involving less than a majority stake, though such investments in the telecommunications sector could potentially be caught by the merger rule if the stake conferred ‘control’ over the acquired undertaking. In most cases, however, control would not arise with a less than majority stake.


Hong Kong: from the enforcer's competition economists

Competition Authority Name

Address: 19/F South Island Place, 8 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 3462 2118
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.compcomm.hk

Contacts

Name: Eshien Chong
Title: Head (Economics)
Phone: +852 3952 0883
Email: [email protected]

Questions and Answers

How many economists do you employ?

The Competition Commission currently has three economists.

Do you have a separate economics unit?

The Competition Commission has an economics department.

Do you have a chief economist?

The Competition Commission has a Head of Economics.

To whom does the chief economist report?

The Head of Economics reports to the CEO of the Commission.

Does the chief economist have the power to hire his or her own staff?

The Head of Economics participates in the recruitment process of his staff. He determines the job description, the profile of candidates that are suitable, and assesses potential candidates in a collegial formation in this process.

How many of your economists have a PhD in industrial economics?

Two of the economists (including the Head of Economics) in the department hold a PhD in industrial economics.

Does the agency include a specialist economist on every case team? If not, why not?

The Commission assigns a specialist economist to the cases in which economic analysis is likely to be useful and relevant in terms of the investigation.

How much economics work is outsourced? What type of work is outsourced?

If the Commission decides to take proceedings in the Competition Tribunal to prove a contravention of the Competition Ordinance, external economic experts will be relied on to provide testimony to the Tribunal when economic analysis is required. This is the most frequent use of external economic expertise.

Organisation chart

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