On January 18, 2012, the district court of Bonn ruled on the scope of access to file for third parties in a cartel case under German law. The court rejected the claim insofar as it concerned access to leniency applications. This is a landmark decision. The court upheld the FCO’s practice to refuse access to file to leniency applications and evidence provided by the applicants.
In 2008, the FCO had fined decorative paper manufacturers for cartel activities. The manufacturers had cooperated under the FCO’s leniency program, and the case was ultimately settled. Pfleiderer, a decorative paper customer, requested full access to the FCO’s file in order to examine and prepare possible [...]
On October 25, 2011, the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) fined mills company VK Mühlen AG in the amount of € 23.8 million for price fixing and customer and market allocation with competitors regarding the sale of flour in Germany. In addition, the FCO found that the participants coordinated capacity reductions. This has been the FCO’s first fine in the ongoing and very broad mills cartel proceedings. According to the FCO, further 40 companies are subject to the investigation.
It seems that VK Mühlen AG fully cooperated with the FCO during the investigation under the leniency program and could thus secure a fine reduction. In addition, the company agreed to a settlement with the [...]
On May 10, 2011, the FCO fined Interseroh in the amount of €206,000 for having implemented a concentration without merger approval. The decision is the second instance this year in which the FCO imposed a fine for implementing a merger without approval, and the second in which the FCO settled dissolution proceedings. Interestingly, it seems to be one of the first cases in which a “voluntary” notice of a merger implementation without prior approval triggered a fine.
The concentration concerned the increase of a 40%-stake held by HHR Stahlschrott und Metallrecycling GmbH & Co. KG (“HHR”) in fm Beteiligungsgesellschaft to 49%, through HHR exercising an option. At the same time, fm’ [...]
The case concerns the question under which conditions the possible future creation of potential competition can be considered to strengthen a dominant position under German merger control rules (see decision of December 22, 2010, VI-Kart 4/09 (V)).
The FCO had prohibited a merger between two local publishers that were active in separate, but neighboring geographic markets (decision of April 21, 2009, B6 – 150/08). The FCO considered each of them as dominant in the newspaper and advertising markets in their local areas. It found that the merger would eliminate potential competition between them, thereby strengthening their dominant positions.
The merging parties successfully appealed the [...]
From December 2010 to February 2011, the FCO investigated a planned settlement between the parties to a tender dispute in the public transport sector. The FCO suspected that the planned settlement would infringe the cartel prohibition (“buying competition”). The FCO issued a case report on February 25, 2011.
The case illustrates that the FCO, which next to competition law also deals with public tender proceedings, is increasingly pushing the enforcement of competition and public tender law within the “public sector”. The case is further a good example of the interaction between competition law and public tender rules. In addition, the principles about “buying competition” m [...]
The German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) fined three manufacturers of fire-fighting vehicles on February 10, 2011, imposing € 20.5 million in total. The FCO found that the companies had engaged in bid rigging since 2001 (price-fixing, quota agreements and market sharing). As usual, the FCO did not only fine the companies, but also the individuals acting on behalf of the companies. It seems that there were cartel meetings at different levels of the hierarchy, both at top level as well as at sales manager level. The FCO thus fined CEOs and directors as well as sales managers.
Interesting: the FCO also fined an independent accountant based in Switzerland for having supported the cartel ar [...]