Archive for June 2011
Let’s put headhunters out of jobs.
I heard on the grapevine that Covington and Burling Brussels is facing a huge stream of new business.
The downside is that current partners and associates are working ’round the clock. Since I have good friends, co-authors and university colleagues there, I am a little concerned.
Now, Covington and Burling is hiring junior and senior associates. I suppose you can send your application to one of the partners working on competition cases.
I attach below the slides presented by H. Gilliams (Eubelius) and N. Pesaresi+G. Mamdani (DG COMP) at yesterday’s lunch talk.
The open question to me: the remedial approach enclosed in those slides sought primarily to address the “too big to fail” issue. Now, should this approach be applied to the different setting where banks face bankrupcy issues because they have purchased dirty paper from failing States?
On the alleged non-structural views of Chicago scholars => “An industry which does not have a competitive structure will not have competitive behavior” (George J. Stigler, “The Case Against Big Business,” Fortune, May 1952)
On the 2004 Microsoft case => “The Commission’s case was like a jellyfish – shapeless and very painful” (I. Forrester). Thanks to I. Debois for the pointer.
Many recent news appear somewhat different when looked at from the perspective of an antitrust
geek professional. Some quick examples:
Novel anticompetitive practices? Pizza maker charged with using mice against competition
(An interesting case study of oligopolistic behavior: monitoring is easy, and the EU certainly has credible retaliatory mechanisms at its disposal…)
“The successful competitor, having been urged to compete, must not be turned upon when he wins” Man dies after winning vodka-drinking competition
A successful maverick? Roland Bunce wins next top model competition
There were a couple of “real” antitrust news too:
Google´s subpoenas Feds to launch probe of Google
One of our posts quoted by Bloomberg Edison, Air Liquide EU Rulings May Aid Fine Cuts, Lawyers Say
Finally (and I promise this is not a joke either), the last of our Press Clips is a further illustration of the Spanish Competition Commission´s proactiveness:
Yesterday, the Brussels School of Competition held its first conference. This inaugural event was devoted to information exchange agreements.
Unlike other events, we tried to avoid having another Horizontal Guidelines’ bashing conference.
Rather, and in line with the BSC’s second mission (compliance), the conference sought to improve awareness of the key principles applicable to information exchanges.
To this end, we designed a very comprehensive programme, which covered horizontal as well as vertical exchange of information. We also included a presentation on information exchanges promoted by public institutions.
I am certainly biased, but the conference was really good. Loads of questions, great presentations, good timing, nice turnout (approximately 80 participants).
So you can judge by yourself, I attach below the speakers’ slides.
Some posts ago we referred here to the Spanish Competition Authority’s decision sanctioning the main Spanish electricity companies with fines totaling some 61 million euros as a good illustration of how quantity and quality may not necessarily go hand in hand with regard to competition law enforcement in Spain.
(Btw, the comments to our previous post express interesting views on the CNC´s attitude and offers possible explanations to its causes. In the days after that post was published several other pieces on the CNC´s performance also appeared elsewhere).
As anticipated then, I believe that the “innovative” theories put forward by the CNC on its decision (which include “sham litigation” and a version of what Nicolas has labeled as “Karate competition law“) merit a comment on this blog, so here go some brief remarks on the decision:
(Before getting started, a disclaimer is in order: my firm is representing one of the entities sanctioned by the CNC. Accordingly, and although I am expressing my very personal views, you are at liberty to take them with a pinch of salt). Those interested in a summary overview of the facts and of the CNC’s official position, check out the CNC´s Press Release here.
Even though the decision declares that companies are responsible for two infringements I will merely focus on the one that can be of greater interest to our readers:
According to the CNC, this infringement consisted of a strategy (note: not a conduct, but a strategy revealed by circumstantial evidence) aimed at hindering customers from changing of electricity supplier at a moment in which deregulation was taking place. One –the main- component of this strategy was an agreement adopted by electricity companies within the framework of their association to appeal a Ministerial Order on the grounds that it contravened data protection rules by not envisaging the right of companies to refuse to provide certain personal data. The other alleged elements consisted of a temporal “cutt-off” of operations relating to applications to move to the free market (which both the Ministry and the Energy Regulator consider justified) as well as of a refusal to meet the requests of one supplier (that had previously been sanctioned by the CNC on a different decision).
(Click here if you’re interested in a comment on the issues that perplex me the most) Read the rest of this entry »