News

A shift in EU merger control policy and practice could affect deal certainty and create opportunities for complainants

April 26, 2021

The European Commission is expanding its control of mergers and acquisitions within the existing legal framework, allowing national authorities to refer a transaction they do not have jurisdiction over for review in Brussels.

While referrals from national authorities to the Commission have always been possible, the Commission would previously not take the case where the transaction was not subject to merger control approval by any national authority. The parties to a transaction could therefore safely complete a deal that was not subject to notification under the EU Merger Regulation or the merger control regimes in any of the member states. This is no longer necessarily the case. Following a shift in policy, the Commission is now prepared to scrutinise transactions that do not meet the thresholds for mandatory notification in any member state. To this effect, the Commission recently adopted new guidance on the application of the referral mechanism in the EU Merger Regulation (here). Soon after, the Commission decided to accept referral requests from a number of member states to assess the proposed acquisition of GRAIL by Illumina under the EU Merger Regulation (see here). In some situations, the national competition authorities are therefore now encouraged by the Commission to request a referral to the EU of deals that they are not competent to assess under their domestic rules, because the applicable thresholds are not fulfilled, and that are worth reviewing at the EU level. This shift in policy and practice is primarily intended to capture so called killer acquisitions - an acquisition of a maverick or future entrant that would eliminate an important competitive force - and other potentially anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions where the turnover of the parties involved do not adequately reflect their competitive importance. This risk must be taken into account in the planning of a deal and preparing the transaction agreements. For third parties that may be negatively affected, the shift creates further opportunities for complaints and intervention. 

New statute prohibits unfair terms and conditions and practices in conjunction with the purchase of agricultural and food products

The so-called UTP Act prohibits buyers from using certain terms and conditions and practices against suppliers of agricultural and food products. The Swedish Competition Authority exercises supervision and can, among other things, carry out unannounced inspections and order individual to attend formal interviews. In conjunction with violations, sanctions such as injunctions subject to a default fine or a sanction fee of up to one per cent of the buyer’s annual turnover can be imposed. The UTP Act will enter into force on 1 November 2021 and will also be applicable to contracts which are entered into prior to this date.
October 05, 2021

Vinge employs additional antitrust economists to further strengthen its practice

We welcome Adam Löfquist and Carl Widstrand to our EU, Competition & Regulatory practice group.
September 30, 2021

European Commission provides sanctions compliance guidance

The European Commission has recently issued three opinions regarding the interpretation of asset freeze provisions in certain sanctions legislation pertaining to Central African Republic, Ukraine, Libya and Syria. The opinions are also of relevance for other sanctions regimes which provide for the same or similar restrictions. Therefore, their practical relevance goes far beyond the sanctions regimes in the context of which they were issued and they therefore provide for helpful guidance regarding the required thresholds for sanctions compliance generally.
September 20, 2021