Articles

Belgian Competition Authority fined an undertaking in a merger control investigation for failure to provide information on time

Belgian Competition Authority fined an undertaking in a merger control investigation for failure to provide information on time

Belgian Competition Authority fined an undertaking in a merger control investigation for failure to provide information on time

03.11.2015

On 30 September 2015, the Competition College of the Belgian Competition Authority ("the College") imposed a fine of EUR 50,000 on the press group Sanoma Media Belgium ("Sanoma") for impeding a merger control investigation.

As part of the merger control investigation into the acquisition of some of its magazine titles by De Persgroep, Sanoma had to respond to an information request. On the day of the deadline, Sanoma provided some market information but indicated that it did not have related market studies.

However, on the last day of the time limit for the case team to complete the investigation, Sanoma sent important documents, including a market study dating back to 2012 and an accompanying presentation. Considering that such negligence amounts to an infringement of Article IV.71, §1 of the Belgian Code of Economic Law, the case team requested the College to impose a fine on Sanoma. The College found that Sanoma manifestly impeded the investigation because the information was provided so late and the case team could not take it into account. 

When calculating the amount of the fine, the College used the 2014 Belgian Fining Guidelines. The basic amount was set taking into account the 2014 Belgian turnover from the sale of the magazine titles forming part of the transaction with De Persgroep, but adjusted for the following mitigating circumstances:

  • the fact that Sanoma spontaneously provided the information at stake, which justified a reduction of 5% of the basic amount;
  • the absence of precedents at the Belgian and EU level; and
  • the fact that it was the first time that the 2014 Fining Guidelines were applied in such a case, which justified another reduction of 1 to 5% of the basic amount.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of November 2015. Other articles in this newsletter:

Back to top

Team

Related news

06.02.2020 NL law
Pay-for-delay: brightened lines between object and effect restrictions

Short Reads - In its first pay-for-delay case, the ECJ has clarified the criteria determining whether settlement agreements between a patent holder of a pharmaceutical product and a generic manufacturer may have as their object or effect to restrict EU competition law. The judgment confirms the General Court’s earlier rulings in Lundbeck and Servier (see our October 2016 and December 2018 newsletters) in which it was held that pay-for-delay agreements (in these cases) constituted a restriction ‘by object’.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
Consumers and Sustainability: 2020 competition enforcement buzzwords

Short Reads - The ACM will include the effects of mergers on labour conditions in its review. It will also investigate excessive pricing of prescription drugs. As well as these topics, the ACM has designated the digital economy and energy transition as its 2020 focus areas. Companies can therefore expect increased enforcement to protect online consumers, and active probing of algorithms.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
The ACM may cast the net wide in cartel investigations

Short Reads - Companies beware: the ACM may not need to specify the scope of its investigation into suspected cartel infringements in as much detail as expected. On 14 January 2020, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal upheld the ACM’s appeal against judgments of the Rotterdam District Court, which had quashed cartel fines imposed on cold storage operators. The operators had argued that the ACM was time-barred from pursuing a case against them, because the ACM had not suspended the prescription period by beginning investigative actions specifically related to the alleged infringements.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
Den Bosch Court of Appeal revives damages claims in Dutch prestressing steel litigation

Short Reads - On 28 January 2020, the Court of Appeal of Den Bosch issued a ruling in the Dutch prestressing steel litigation. In its ruling, the Court of Appeal overturned a 2016 judgment of the District Court of Limburg, in which it was held that civil damages claims brought by Deutsche Bahn were time-barred under German law (see our January 2017 newsletter).

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
CDC/Kemira: Amsterdam Court of Appeal applies European principle of effectiveness to limitation periods

Short Reads - In a private enforcement case brought by CDC against Kemira, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal applies the European principle of effectiveness and rules that claims are not time-barred under Spanish, Finnish and Swedish law. With reference to the Cogeco judgment of the ECJ, the Court considers that claimants must be able to await the outcome of any administrative appeal against an infringement decision, even in relation to respondents who themselves have not filed appeals against the infringement decision.

Read more

This website uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential for the technical functioning of our website and you cannot disable these cookies if you want to read our website. We also use functional cookies to ensure the website functions properly and analytical cookies to personalise content and to analyse our traffic. You can either accept or refuse these functional and analytical cookies.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring