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

03.08.2022 EU law
Gotta catch ‘em all? Upward referral of ‘killer acquisitions’ upheld

Short Reads - Companies involved in intended or completed M&A transactions falling below EU and national merger notification thresholds should beware that their deals may still catch the European Commission’s eye. The General Court has upheld the Commission’s decision to accept a national referral request regarding Illumina’s acquisition of Grail: a transaction not triggering any of the notification thresholds within the EEA.

Read more

06.07.2022 NL law
Highest Dutch court: the postman may still ring twice?

Short Reads - The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy was wrong to unblock the ACM’s prohibited merger between postal operators PostNL and Sandd on grounds of public interest. According to the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb), the Minister cannot substitute the ACM’s assessment for its own when considering public interest reasons. Since the Minister did do so in this particular case, the CBb annulled the Minister’s merger clearance.

Read more

28.07.2022 NL law
Purely commercial interest also a legitimate interest? Council of State leaves the question unanswered.

Short Reads - On 27 July 2022, the Council of State confirmed that the Dutch Data Protection Authority wrongly imposed a €575,000 fine on VoetbalTV. But the Council did not answer the question whether the AP rightly or wrongly believes that a purely commercial interest cannot be a legitimate interest within the meaning of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Read more

06.07.2022 NL law
Foreign Subsidies Regulation crosses the finish line

Short Reads - On 30 June 2022, the European Parliament and the European Council reached agreement on the final text of the Foreign Subsidies Regulation. Adding to the regulatory burdens, this Regulation creates a notification obligation for companies that receive subsidies from non-EU governments in transactions or public procurement procedures. 

Read more

28.07.2022 NL law
Zuiver commercieel belang ook gerechtvaardigd belang: Raad van State laat zich er niet over uit

Short Reads - Op 27 juli 2022 heeft de Raad van State bevestigd dat de Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens onterecht een boete van € 575.000 aan VoetbalTV heeft opgelegd. De hoop bestond dat de Afdeling antwoord zou geven op de vraag of de AP terecht of onterecht meent dat een zuiver commercieel belang géén gerechtvaardigd belang kan zijn in de zin van de Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming. Het antwoord op deze vraag blijft echter uit.  

Read more

06.07.2022 NL law
Take note(s): Qualcomm’s EUR 1 billion dominance abuse fine quashed

Short Reads - The General Court annulled the Commission’s EUR 1 billion fine imposed on Qualcomm for abuse of dominance on the LTE chipsets market. In addition to finding fault with the Commission’s foreclosure analysis of Qualcomm’s alleged exclusivity payments, the General Court found that the Commission’s procedural irregularities alone would have sufficed to set the Commission’s decision aside.

Read more