GCR 100 - 14th Edition

LK Shields Solicitors

Professional notice

Ireland 

Marco Hickey leads a small but busy competition practice at LK Shields. The firm says it has acted for large clients in a range of industry sectors, but cannot reveal details relating to much of its work.

It acted for Irish Press Media and Butville in the sale of their stake in County Tipperary Radio to Dreamglade; this was unconditionally cleared after a Phase I review. Other clients have included Kinetic Concepts, Island Capital and Chevron.

Marco Hickey, Partner
EU, Competition and Regulated Markets
[email protected]
T: +353 1 637 1522
F: +353 1 661 0883

LK Shields Solicitors
40 Upper Mount Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

The EU Competition & Regulated Markets Team at LK Shields is one of the most highly regarded and experienced specialist teams in its field in Ireland, having advised a large number of prestigious clients on Irish and EU competition law issues. We have been involved in some of the most high profile and significant competition law matters to date some of which are referred to below.

We have acted for many well-known blue-chip multinational corporate groups in competition law matters. The team has gained substantial experience in various industry sectors, particularly in oil, radio and news print. In these contexts, the team has interacted with regulatory bodies at both the Irish and European levels. LK Shields is on the Irish Competition Authority’s panel of lawyers, which is a testament to the regard in which our competition practice is held.

The team has significant experience in the field of Irish and EU competition legislation including:

  • Advising clients on all aspects of Irish/EU competition law
  • Introducing compliance programmes for clients
  • Defending clients in the context of investigations into alleged anti-competitive activities
  • Lodging complaints alleging anti-competitive behaviour with the Competition Authority/EU Commission on behalf of clients
  • Acting for clients seeking remedies for breach of Irish/EU competition law
  • Advising clients on all aspects of the mergers regime under the Irish Competition Act/EU Merger Control Regulation
  • Preparing notifications to the Irish Competition Authority in respect of mergers which exceed the thresholds for compulsory notification under Irish law and to the EU Commission regarding large scale multi-Member State mergers that are subject to the EU Merger Control Regulation
  • Liaising with the Competition Authority/EU Commission in its investigation of merger notifications and managing the review process, including notifications which undergo a full “phase 2” investigation
  • Making submissions to the Competition Authority/EU Commission to confirm or deny the accuracy of the firm’s views on jurisdictional aspects of the Competition Act/EU Merger Control Regulation
  • Advising on proposed directives which may impact on our clients’ businesses
  • Contacting and lobbying the Commission’s services, including seeking to ensure an activity engaged in by a client is included in a market liberalisation initiative
  • Seeking the Commission’s view on the interpretation of EU legislation
  • Complaining to the Commission, as the executive body for enforcing EU law, that a Member State has failed to implement EU legislation which, if properly implemented, would benefit our clients, resulting in the Commission applying pressure on Member States to ensure implementation
  • Advising clients on the application of EU State Aid rules

Marco Hickey is head of EU, Competition and Regulated Markets Unit at LK Shields. Marco has considerable experience in both contentious and non-contentious EU and Irish competition law matters. He spent four and a half years exclusively practicing EU law with a well-known firm in Brussels. In that time, Marco was involved in a number of significant EU competition law cases, including acting for a major multi-national corporate in an action for annulment before the European Court of First Instance against the EU Commission decision (IV/M.269) approving the Shell/Montecatini concentration notified to the Commission under the 1989 EU Merger Control Regulation (Case T-322/94 R). Marco was also involved in the preparation of one of the first merger notifications under the 1989 EU Merger Control Regulation in Mitsubishi/Ucar (IV/M.024).

Marco has written extensively on the subject of EU and Irish competition law. He is the author of the book entitled "Merger Control" which was published by the Thomson Reuters group in May, 2013. This book is the first book exclusively devoted to the competition law implications of mergers and acquisitions in Ireland. The book is widely recognized one of the leading competition law text books in Ireland. Please see the review published by the World Competition Law and Economics Review, which can be accessed by clicking here.

LK Shields has been involved in some of the most significant phase 2 merger reviews conducted under the Irish Competition Act to date. For example, the firm acted for the buyer in the only ever merger clearance under Irish law to feature an up-front divestiture where the buyer for the business being divested was required to be put in place by the divesting party prior to the completion of the notified transaction. This arose in the course of acting for Communicorp Group Limited in the acquisition of Emap Plc’s Irish radio assets, being Today FM, FM 104 and Highland Radio. The case involved significant competition issues arising from the proposed transaction principally because of the market share the purchaser group post completion and the characteristics of the relevant markets. The transaction was approved by the Competition Authority, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment (now the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation) and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (now the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland).

We acted for Communicorp in the sale of FM104 to UTV which arose out of the above acquisition of Emap Plc’s Irish radio assets. The transaction required separate approval from the Competition Authority, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment (now the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation) and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (now the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland).

LK Shields advised Veolia Environmental Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French transnational company Veolia Propreté SA, on the sale of its Irish operations to Greenstar. The transaction involved a merger of two of the largest players in the commercial and industrial waste sector in Ireland. The merger was cleared unconditionally after a Phase II merger review by the Irish Competition Authority.

The firm acted for News Corporation in the acquisition of Dow Jones (the target business included the Wall Street Journal). The transaction was notified to, and cleared by, the Irish Competition Authority in a Phase 1 merger review.

The team acted for the plaintiffs Leanort Ltd, Hytherm (Ireland) Ltd and Hytherm Ltd in the first ever case before the Irish Courts in which an interlocutory injunction was granted to prohibit a breach of European competition law rules (Leanort Ltd, Hytherm (Ireland) Ltd and Hytherm Ltd v. Southern Chemicals Ltd, Aircell Ltd, CRH plc, Litepac Ltd, Springvale EPS Ltd and BASF (Ireland) Ltd [1992] IJEL 143).

The team at LK Shields has considerable experience on the interaction between competition law and examinership. The team advised Fate Park Limited on the acquisition by Tedcastles Oil Products Limited of the Fate Park group in the context of examinership proceedings before the Irish High Court. Fate Park was involved in the distribution of refined oil products. The acquisition was carried out under a scheme of arrangement approved by the High Court. The acquisition was cleared by the Competition Authority following a Phase 1 investigation.

LK Shields is currently acting for the management team of a very well-known retail business in Ireland which is in examinership and the competition issues have played a significant part in securing the business which was sold following a competitive bid process.

The team at LK Shields has considerable experience in EU merger control matters. The team recently advised Kendrick/Island Capital on the competition aspects of the acquisition by Kendrick of sole control of Topaz in various stages involving the purchase of debt from the Special Liquidators of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) and the conversion of the above and other debt into equity. The transaction was notified to, and cleared by, the EU Commission under the EU Merger Control Regulation. The Topaz transaction was also one of the largest transactions in Ireland in recent times, Topaz being the largest retailer and wholesaler of oil in Ireland and of great significance to the Irish State and economy.

The competition team at LK Shields advised the Egis group (ultimately owned by the French State) in the acquisition of certain NTR road operation and maintenance companies. This transaction involved the making of a joint jurisdictional submission to the EU Commission in the context of the EU Merger Control Regulation. The submissions were accepted by the EU Commission.

The team has a wealth of experience in advising complainants. LK Shields is currently acting for a number of complainants in different sectors each involving the preparation of detailed complaints to the Irish Competition Authority alleging widespread anti-competitive conduct in breach of EU and Irish competition law. The sectors in question are of considerable importance to the Irish economy.

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