Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

We´re back

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We´re back. Our holidays away from blogging took a little longer than expected, but these past days turned out to be quite busy for both of us. Nico has already explained that he´s been working on his “big book” and on bashing credit rating agencies. On my side, apart from some ongoing cases on which I will eventually comment, I attended Fordham´s annual antitrust conference in NY last week. As expected, it was excellent. In a few days I will comment on what happened there as well as on the paper that Luis Ortiz Blanco and myself drafted during a considerable part of what were supposed to be our summer holidays, and which relied heavily on the impressions and ideas conveyed to us by readers of this blog.

Some interesting stuff occurred in our absence. Amongst others, the following: as we had anticipated, on August 5th the European Commission initiated a formal investigation concerning the luxury watches market (in essence, it will seek to further investigate whether what it said was ok for companies to do in 2005 is still ok in light of the parameters for market definition in aftermarket settings laid down by the General Court in CEAHR); on September 1st the US DOJ filed a suit to block AT&Ts merger with T-Mobile; on September 9th the General Court issued Judgments in the Italian Raw Tobacco case (most of what is said on the Judgment is business as usual; the news is that the Court has endorsed the Commission´s withdrawal of the conditional leniency that had been granted to Deltafina before it disclosed the fact that it had applied for leniency to other members of the cartel). Today, the General Court has also issued some interesting Judgments in a couple of cartel cases, but that can wait until tomorrow.

More stuff that happened during our holidays: those diffuse entities called “the markets” (which in the past few weeks have been reported to be attacking my country..)  kept on giving us bad news. But contrary to financial markets, the legal market for competition lawyers is thriving:  on Monday it was announced that Johan Ysewyn (previously Head of Competition at Linklaters and, like Luis, Professor at the BSC) has been hired by CliffordChance; Assimakis Komninos made a timely move and returned from the Greek competition authority to White&Case as a partner. Another significant move(s) to a new entrant in the Brussels market will be announced in the coming days (it involves a couple of well-known names). (Can´t say much more; you can consider this to be an incomplete Chillin´Leak).

Competition authorities are also doing some very smart hiring: in October Miguel de la Mano (with whom, btw, I will most likely co-author a text on abuse of dominance soon) will be joining the UK´s Competition Commission as its Chief Economist while on a secondment from DG Comp. I kinda like competition authorities who (like the CC, the OFT, the Dutch NMa or the Autorité de la Concurrence) hire qualified officials even if they´re non-nationals of their respective countries. Maybe one day we will end up with a new relevant market of an EEA dimension for competition enforcers…

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

15 September 2011 at 1:41 pm

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