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Antitrust M&A Snapshot | FTC and DOJ Continue M&A Transaction Investigation While UK CMA Continues Role as Key Jurisdiction in Merger Clearance Process

Antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe were very active in the final quarter of 2019. The FTC and DOJ continue to investigate and challenge M&A transactions in a variety of industries. Events of this quarter highlight the importance of states in merger enforcement. As well, recent FTC activity highlights the regulators' focus on preventing monopolists from buying nascent competitors. In Europe, the UK CMA continues to expand its role as a key jurisdiction in the merger clearance process, which will only accelerate with Brexit. The EC agreed to clear, subject to conditions, acquisitions in the aluminum production and battery industries as well as in the wholesale supply and retail distribution of TV channels after conducting Phase II reviews. Moreover, the EC opened new in-depth investigations into transactions in the copper refining and engineering sectors. Access the full issue.

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Annual European Competition Review 2019

McDermott's Annual European Competition Review summarizes key developments in European competition rules. During the previous year, several new regulations, notices and guidelines were issued by the European Commission. There were also many interesting cases decided by the General Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. All these new rules and judicial decisions may be relevant for your company and your day-to-day practice. In our super-connected age, we can be inundated by information from numerous sources and it is difficult to select what is really relevant to one’s business. The purpose of this review is to help general counsel and their teams to be aware of the essential updates. This review was prepared by the Firm’s European Competition Team in Brussels and Paris. Throughout 2019 they have monitored legal developments and drafted the summary reports. Access the full report.

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Five Things To Know About German Merger Control

As reported previously, German competition law was recently amended. The amendments included with the introduction of a “size of transaction”-threshold a notable change with respect to German merger control. The following is a reminder of five important features of German merger control which you should be aware of: The jurisdictional thresholds of German merger control are easily triggered German merger control applies if the parties to a transaction (usually the acquirer and the target) exceeded, in the last financial year, certain turnover thresholds. In an interna­tional context, these thresholds are relatively low and easily triggered: Joint worldwide turnover of all parties > € 500 million, and German turnover of at least one party > € 25 million, and German turnover of another party > € 5 million. There is a new “size of transaction”-threshold Since June 2017, German merger control can also be triggered if a newly introduced “size of...

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The Concept of Full-Function Joint Venture in the EU

In the European Union (EU), at the inception of a joint venture (JV), parent companies must determine whether the newly created structure presents a full-functionality nature, which depends on its degree of autonomy. The answer to this question will determine the legal framework applicable to it. On the one hand, if the JV is full-function it will fall within the scope of the EU Merger Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004), assuming that the turnover thresholds set out in the Regulation are met. Under these circumstances, the European Commission (EC) will assess the impact of the JV on competition on an ex ante basis. On the other hand, if the JV is not full-function and takes the form of a partnership formalized by a legal structure to a large extent dependent on its parent companies, the creation of a JV will not have to be notified but the EC may operate a control ex post, in the light of Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the...

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ECJ Gets Tough with The Commission on Parental Liability

by Martina Maier and Philipp Werner In Elf Aquitaine SA v Commission, the European Court of Justice ruled on 29 September 2011 that Elf Aquitaine was not jointly and severally liable as a parent company for the involvement of its wholly owned subsidiary in the cartel for monochloroaecetic acid.  Taken with a number of recent judgments, this suggests that European  courts are getting tougher with the Commission on parental liability. To read the full article, click here. 

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Developments in Private Antitrust Damage Claims – France

by Philipp Werner France may join the growing number of jurisdictions for class action style private antitrust damage claims in the EU. A judge from the French Cour de cassation, the highest civil jurisdiction, speaking at a conference yesterday, stated that class action style "assigned damages claims" under French law could be accepted by French courts without a change in legislation. Under this model, a company may buy damage claims from cartel victims and bring them as a bundled claim to court. This is the same mechanism that has recently been used in German courts by CDC.  Should this position materialise in French jurisprudence, it would mean that class action style damage claims could prosper in France.

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Cooperation Between Competition Authorities in Merger Review in the EU

by Philipp Werner and Christoph Voelk The European Commission started a public consultation on a draft document which seeks to establish best practices on cooperation between national competition authorities (NCAs) in the EU when reviewing mergers.  Although cooperation between NCAs exists already, especially through the European Competition Network (ECN), the best practices seek to formalize the cooperation between NCAs and thus providing more security and predictability for the parties and their legal advisers. The best practices should enhance cooperation between NCAs in cases where the same merger is assessed by several NCAs because it does not meet the thresholds for review under the EU Merger Regulation.  The Commission considers cooperation between NCAs as beneficial not only for the authorities but also for the merging parties:  it will speed up the investigation process, reduce burdens on the merging parties and may help NCAs in...

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