In 2007, the European Commission prohibited Ryanair’s attempted hostile bid to acquire rival Irish airline, Aer Lingus. It also refused to order Ryanair to divest its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus, which it had built up during its aborted public bid. The General Court later upheld both the prohibition of the merger and the refusal to require divestment of the minority shareholding. Subsequently, the UK Office of Fair Trading investigated Ryanair’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus; Ryanair’s challenges to the OFT’s jurisdiction were rejected by both the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. On 1 June the Supreme Court refused Ryanair leave to appeal, thus confirming the OFT’s ability to investigate the transaction, which it referred to the Competition Commission on 15 June. However, immediately thereafter, Ryanair launched a third hostile bid to acquire Aer Lingus, leading to further litigation before the CAT to challenge the Competition Commission’s jurisdiction.
This blog post examines the complex interaction of European Commission and national authority jurisdiction to examine different transactions involving the same parties, as well as the OFT’s reasons for referring Ryanair’s minority shareholding to the Competition Commission.

On 15 May 2012, Advocate-General Mazák delivered his long awaited Opinion to the European Court of Justice in the long-running AstraZeneca litigation. Practitioners hoping for an opinion that tempered some of the more extreme dicta of the General Court were to be disappointed. Advocate-General Mazák recommended that the General Court’s judgment be upheld in its…

At the end of March, the European Commission fined Czech energy companies Energetický a průmyslový and EP Investment Advisors EUR2.5 million for obstructing a dawn raid which European Commission officials carried out as part of an antitrust investigation. This is the first time that the European Commission has fined a company for the specific violation…

On 14 February, the Court of Justice will deliver a ruling on a preliminary reference by a Czech Regional Court in Brno, which is likely to provide welcome guidance on the issue of parallel proceedings within the ECN and the principle of ne bis in idem. The case concerns the legality of the Czech NCA’s…

On 17 October, the Commission published a revised version of its Best Practices for the submission of economic evidence and data collection in competition cases (“BP”). The first version of the BP, published in January 2010, included guidance on issues such as the way relevant questions in economic submissions should be formulated, choice of methodology,…

Public discussion on merger control in the last few years of has put the spotlight on two elements of contemporary merger analysis: market definition and market concentration, of which the former has raised considerable debate, in particular. It has been asked if market definition has de facto become superfluous to merger analysis due to some…

On 13 September, the Commission published its decision of 31 March 2011 in China National Bluestar/Elkem. After DSM/Sinochem/JV (decision of 10 May but published in June), this was the second published decision which dealt in some detail with the question how to treat Chinese State-owned Enterprises or SOEs under the EUMR. The question has both…

The past decade has seen a flurry of articles published trying to make sense of the degree of control that the EU Courts exercise on complex economic reasoning. By contrast, much less has been written about the Courts’ unlimited jurisdiction on fines, which allows them to increase or decrease the financial sanctions imposed by the…

To commemorate his first year in office as Competition Commissioner, Mr. Almunia and José openly discuss current and future competition policy issues.The full interview for World Competition is posted in Mr Almunia’s webpage http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/almunia/index_fr.htm Amongst the varied topics covered in this interview the following are worth highlighting: Fines and Damages for Competition law infringements; the…

The European Commission’s Phase II decision of 17 November 2010 concerning Syngenta’s acquisition of Monsanto’s sunflower seeds business raises a number of questions. First, it took the European authorities long to decide who should review the case. The transaction was signed in August 2009 – it did not have an EU dimension and was notifiable…