Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for the ‘ChillinLeaks’ Category

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

Closed for the summer

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It is time for Chillin´Competition to take a summer break.

The past few months have been hectic for Nicolas and for me both at work (we´re working on really interesting cases, books and papers on which we´ll comment in a few weeks) and on this blog (where we´ve managed to publish a post a day; this is our 429th post!)

Chilling Competition has already accomplished most of the objectives that we set at the beginning of the year, and has exceeded all our expectations in many ways. Thanks to you, we recently crossed the 150.000 visits threshold; we  currently have nearly 500 visits a day, 200 members in our LinkedIn group, and more than 150 subscribers from all over the world. We´re even having lots of visits on our new youtube channel thanks to “The Raid“!

Most importantly, we´ve had a lot of fun. If you enjoyed what you´ve read too, then we have so far succeeded.

We´re committed to getting better, and for that reason we´ve got some quite interesting new projects on the pipeline that we´ll be announcing right after the holidays. 

It´s a pity that we won´t be able to provide you with timely coverage of any competition law related developments that may take place in the coming days, such as the first-ever non-consensual Commission decision withdrawing an NCA´s competence to handle an ongoing case under Art. 11(6) of Regulation 1/2003, which should be out soon (you can consider this to be the last Chillingleak of the season..)

Have a great summer!

Nicolas  &  Alfonso

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

26 July 2011 at 6:15 pm

ChillinLeaks

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Back from Luxembourg with a present for our readers:

Report for the Hearing – MSFT v Commission – T 167-08

Not only the hearing was cool. We also had bilateral meetings with a legal secretary of the General Court (Foad Hoseinian), a judge of the Civil Service Tribunal  (Mr. Gillot, not sure about the spelling) and, last but not least, Judge Koen Lenaerts from the ECJ.

A truly great day.

Written by Nicolas Petit

27 May 2011 at 7:32 am

Posted in ChillinLeaks

Conflicting views on the Google/ITA Software deal

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Last week I mentioned here the White Paper issued by the American Antitrust Institute on Google´s proposed acquisition of ITA Software. As you will recall, the AAI concluded that the deal would give rise to competitive concerns that made antitrust intervention necessary. As practically all Google-related debates, this one is fast getting huge, and extremely interesting.

On the one hand, the anti-Google “Fair Search” coalition has created a web page stating all the reasons why the deal would harm consumers in every conceivable way. You may or may not agree with it, but one must admit that they´re doing a pretty good job in speading their message around (this is a consequence of what I meant when I said here that Google has tough and very powerful competitors, who have the incentives and the means to present a fierce battle in as many fronts as possible). 

We´ve given you the link to the AAI´s White Paper and to the Fair Search web page, both of which favor close scrutiny of this transaction. The picture would not be complete if we didn´t direct you to some of the arguments explaining why the acquisition of ITA by Google would actually be procompetitive. Daniel Crane, a Professor at Michigan Law School, has just written a guest post on the blog Techcrunch.com in which he does that exactly; he also sends a very clear message: “Let´s calm down on the Google-ITA deal” (thanks go to George Pedakakis for pointing us to it).    

Crane´s main point is that “Google’s competitors naturally fear Google’s emergence as a formidable rival in travel search, but that is hardly a reason to block the transaction. Indeed, it’s a reason to approve the deal. The most likely scenario is that Google’s acquisition of ITA would allow Google a quick and efficient entry point into travel search that would expand consumer options and increase rather than decrease competition“. His post also responds to the main allegations put forward by those opposing the deal.

Now that you´ve a complete picture of the main positions in this debate we´d be happy to know about any thoughts our readers may have on this matter. Anyone? 

Unrelated: We are also reporting more and important moves in the Brussels legal market: a bunch of great associates have also left Howrey to join Shearman&Sterling. Amongst them are some of the brightest young lawyers around (some of whom are also very good friends of ours), such as Mark English, Elvira Aliende, Louise Rabeux, or Marixenia Davilla.      

And a chillin´leak: Julian Joshua is apparently headed to Steptoe & Johnson

It´s shocking to see how what until very recently was a top-notch practice at Howrey´s has disintegrated so quickly. Looking at the positive side: there will be more empty tables at L´arte di, which is were we constantly ran into each other at lunchtime..

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

2 March 2011 at 3:26 pm

Chillingleaks: European Commission investigates Telefónica and PT

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It appears that DG Comp has initiated a formal investigation in relation to a possible non-compete agreement between Telefónica and Portugal Telecom. The two companies have now unofficially confirmed this news, which could become public in the next few hours.

People involved in the case have  indicated that the agreement could have been entered into last July, at the time Telefónica bought PT´s shares in Vivo (a reminder: the Portuguese government had opposed this acquisition by virtue of its “golden share” in PT. Although the ECJ recently declared that the existence of such “shares” infringes the Treaty provisions on freedom of establishement, the golden share on PT  is still there).  The agreement  is suspected to have consisted of a commitment not to compete in each other´s “home” market  until December 2011.

Similar “ancillary restrictions” have also been subject to recent investigations by the Commission.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

24 January 2011 at 9:51 am

ChillinLeaks (or kind of)

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There’s been a bunch of significant antitrust news in recent days.

Since they have already been revealed on other websites, they are not genuine ChillinLeaks.

  • We learned today that the august Trevor Soames had left Howrey Brussels. We wish him luck for his new ventures. We do also wish luck to our good friend Miguel Rato who, in addition to being one of the brightest young competition lawyers in the market, was recently made partner there (and to other friends who have left/stay with the firm).
  • Very many thanks also Geoffroy Van de Walle de Ghelcke who informed us that the European Google Antitrust Questionnaire had been posted on the Internet (and on the excellent antitrust review).
  • Finally, I have been interviewed yesterday on Apple’s threats to remove free newpapers’ applications from AppStore . Apple apparently wants to push newspapers to sell (read in exchange for a price) online subscriptions for iPads exclusively through iTunes (and not for free through other platforms or in connection with paper subscriptions). The Belgian Minister for economic affairs – yes, there is a government in Belgium, though it is well beyond use-by date  – has requested the Competition Directorate General to open an investigation for abuse of dominance. According to the Minister, this issue, which seems to arise in other Member States, should be dealt with at the European level. Until recently, Apple has enjoyed a relative degree of immunity in so far as EU competition law is concerned. 

Written by Nicolas Petit

20 January 2011 at 2:13 pm

ChillinLeaks

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We were the firsts to report on the replacement of N. Calvino and on the whole reshuffling of DG COMP a while ago.

We got a fresh hand on the draft horizontal guidelines, and provided some hints on their contents.

10 days ago, we were the ones to announce that the Commission is attempting to cook a cartel case on the exclusive basis of economic evidence.

Given our proven ability to chill competition on the market for breaking antitrust news, Alfonso and I have decided to formally start a ChillinLeaks column. We simply hope not to be accused of serious criminal offenses in Sweden.

Should you wish to contribute to the free flow of AT-related information, and send us revelations and stories for disclosure on this blog, please note that we apply the highest standard of confidentiality to our sources. You may also reach us by phone, should you prefer this communications means.

To inaugurate this new column, here’s the big news (still unofficial):

Kai-Uwe Kühn (University of Michigan) will be the next Chief Economist of DG COMP, and will replace D. Neven who’s supposed to step down shortly. Kühn is a specialist of collusion, collective dominance and hi-tech industries (read Microsoft and interoperability issues). He has consulted, if our information is correct, for CRA International. He holds a Phd in economics from Oxford University. Congrats to him.

 Alfonso and Nicolas

(PS: Image possibly subject to copyrights. Source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

9 December 2010 at 3:52 pm