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German Regulator Steps Up Enforcement of Merger Standstill Obligation

by Martina Maier and Philipp Werner The majority of merger control regimes around the world impose standstill or waiting period requirements for notifiable transactions, e.g. the US, the EU and most EU Member States. If a transaction meets the filing thresholds, it must be notified to the competent antitrust regulator and must not be closed without prior approval by the antitrust regulator or the expiration of the applicable waiting period. Under German merger control rules, a notifiable merger must not be implemented without prior clearance decision. An infringement of the standstill obligation can (theoretically) lead to fines of up to 10 percent of the group's worldwide turnover. In addition, the infringement of the standstill obligation renders the contracts ineffective under German merger control rules. The German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has recently taken a stricter approach to the enforcement of the merger standstill obligation. In the past, the...

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German Federal Cartel Office Launches Sector Enquiry into Food and Luxury Food Retail Market

by Martina Maier and Philipp Werner The German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced yesterday that it has launched a sector inquiry into food retailers.  The FCO will focus its study on foodstuffs and luxury foodstuffs without explicitly naming particular goods in its press release but broadly stating that the enquiry will only focus on “selected product groups”.  According to the official statement from the FCO, which is only available in German, the authority seeks to improve its “understanding” of the relationship between retailers and suppliers.  The FCO plans to have a close look into the market power of the large retailers.  The assessment will also focus on “whether and to what degree the leading retailers enjoy a purchasing advantage over their competitors”. The retailer market in Germany is very concentrated, with only four large retailers holding about 85 percent of the market.  The...

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