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Italy’s Competition Chair Confirms That ad hoc Compliance Programs Will Continue to be Considered as a Mitigating Factor

by Veronica Pinotti and Martino Sforza On March 6, 2012, the members of the Italian Antitrust Association met with the new Chair of the Italian Competition Authority (ICA), Giovanni Pitruzzella. During the meeting, Pitruzella stated that ad hoc qualitative compliance programs will continue to be considered as an effective mitigating factor, confirming the ICA's attitude towards compliance programs and encouraging the use of such programs. However, participation in general online compliance training sessions is unlikely to be considered as a mitigating factor because such sessions are not specifically tailored to a company's needs. To mitigate the risk of potential antitrust infringements, therefore, multinational groups with operations in Italy should consider developing ad hoc antitrust compliance programs in their Italian subsidiaries. 

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Italian Competition Authority Updates Merger Control Turnover Thresholds

by Martino Sforza The Italian Competition Authority has updated its merger control turnover thresholds.  Effective as of today, November 21, 2011, Section 16(1) of Law no. 287 of October 10, 1990, requires prior notification of all mergers and acquisitions where either of the following conditions is fulfilled: Aggregate turnover in Italy of all undertakings involved is above EUR 468 million Aggregate turnover in Italy of the target company is above EUR 47 million No notification is required if the target is a foreign company which did not generate any turnover in Italy in the last three years and is not expected to do so as a result of the transaction. Italy's merger control thresholds are adjusted annually to take into account increases in the GDP deflator index.  The updated thresholds are published in the Competition Authority's Bulletin once this increase in index is announced officially.

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Giovanni Pitruzzella Appointed New Chairman of the Italian Competition Authority

by Veronica Pinotti The Presidents of the Italian Senate and the Lower Chamber have just appointed Giovanni Pitruzzella as new Chairman of the Italian Competition Authority, after Antonio Catricalà, the current Chairman was named under-secretary to the Prime Minister's office and Secretary of the Council of Ministers, in the newly established Monti's government. Pitruzzella is a Professor of Public Law at the University of Palermo and Avvocato admitted to practice before the Italian Supreme Court, and he has chaired various parliamentary and regional commissions.

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European Developments: French Competition Authority Launches Public Consultation on Settlement and Compliance Programs and Italy’s Prime Minister Announces New Cabinet

Public Consultation on Settlement and Compliance Programs Launched by the French Competition Authority by Louise-Astrid Aberg and Lionel Lesur On October 14, the French Competition Authority (FCA) launched a two-month public consultation for guidelines on settlement and compliance programs.  Both these guidelines have been highly anticipated since they were first announced last May. The draft settlement guidelines contain details on the FCA's approach and decisional practices which were developed under the control of the French courts.  Among the guidelines, the FCA determined that settlement is possible in all cases where infringement on competition law has taken place, including cartels, vertical restraints and single firm conduct.  In the event of infringement, settlement becomes an option only after the parties have been formally charged.  Once parties fully acknowledge their participation in anticompetitive conduct, the casehandler in...

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Health Care Insurance Companies in Italy Fined Over €13 Million for Anti-Competitive Behaviour

by Veronica Pinotti The Italian Competition Authority has found that four health care insurance providers—HDI-Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG, Faro Compagnia di Assicurazioni e riassicurazioni S.p.a., Navale Assicurazioni, and Primogest (a multi-firm agency)—participated in anti-competitive behaviour between 2003 and 2008. The Authority has imposed fines against the companies totalling more than €13 million for setting up a unique and complex agreement to divide up various insurance tenders for the coverage of third party liability and operator liability, as determined by local health care and hospital companies in Campania (region located in the South of Italy). According to the Authority, the agreement affected 18 insurance tenders and nine different procurement entities, accounting for approximately 60 per cent of the health care insurance market in the region. Antonio Catricalà, the Chairman of the antitrust authority stated...

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Italian Competition Authority Block Proposed Acquisition

by Veronica Pinotti and Martino Sforza On 8 August 2011, the Italian Competition Authority blocked the proposed acquisition by Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque (CVA) of Deval and Vallenergia, both active in the retail sale of electricity in Valle d'Aosta, a mountain region in the north of Italy, close to the border with France. The case is interesting because, in reaching its decision to prohibit the transaction, the Authority took into account not just the parties' market shares, but also the likely impact of local legislation granting incentives to retail suppliers of electricity. According to the Authority, as these incentives stand currently, they form increased barriers to entry. The Authority also issued an official statement informing the local authorities of the alleged restriction to competition created by this legislation. It added that it may reconsider its assessment of the CVA acquisition if the legislation was amended to...

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Italian Competition Authority Finds Abusive Conduct in Withholding Data and Internal Communications Praising Company Strategy

by Veronica Pinotti, Martino Sforza and Christoph Voelk On 5 July 2011, the Italian Competition Authority imposed fines of €5.1 million on a multinational crop protection company for having abused its dominant position on the market for fosetyl-based systemic fungicides in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.  In addition, the Authority issued an injunction restraining the company from such conduct in the future.  To read the full article, click here.

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Interplay Between Antitrust and Criminal Law in Europe

by Veronica Pinotti and Martino Sforza In Europe, the interplay between antitrust and criminal law at the national level may vary significantly by jurisdiction. Some European Union member states, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Romania, have criminalized competition law. Other jurisdictions, such as Germany and Italy, do not envisage criminal penalties for anticompetitive practices; however, such conduct may sometimes qualify as a separate criminal offense.  The following cases, across Europe, show that there appears to be a general trend towards more effective enforcement against serious antitrust violations – including by means of criminal penalties against individuals – and not only in the countries with criminal competition laws. To read the full article, please visit:  http://mwe.com/info/pubs/pinotti0611.pdf

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Italian Competition Authority’s Investigation into Large-Scale Distribution in the Food Sector

by Veronica Pinotti, Philipp Werner and Martino Sforza On 6 November 2010, the Italian Competition Authority launched an investigation into the role of large-scale retail distribution in Italy's food sector.  The investigation aims at assessing potential antitrust issues in this sector, and will focus on the agreements and strategic negotiations between suppliers and large-scale distributors, the role of centralised purchasing, the use of private-label brands, and their likely effects on the final prices of food products.  This obviously also has an impact on large multinational food and beverage suppliers. Companies involved will soon receive detailed questionnaires and requests for information, which need to be handled with care by antitrust attorneys in order to minimise the risk of a potential ad hoc investigation.  In the past, the Authority's sectoral investigations have proven to be the prelude to specific investigations against...

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Italian Merger Control Thresholds – New Revisions

by Veronica Pinotti and Martino Sforza The Italian Competition Authority has updated its merger control turnover thresholds.  Effective as of 31 May 2010, Section 16(1) of Law no. 287 of 10 October 1990 requires prior notification of all mergers and acquisitions where either of the following conditions is fulfilled: Aggregate turnover in Italy of all undertakings involved is above EUR 472 million (revised under the terms of the same Section 16(1)) Aggregate turnover in Italy of the target company is above EUR 47 million (as revised)   No notification is required if the target is a foreign company which did not generate any turnover in Italy in the last three years and is not expected to do so as a result of the transaction. Italy's merger control thresholds are adjusted annually to take into account increases in the GDP deflator index.  The updated thresholds are published in the Competition Authority's Bulletin once this increase in index is...

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