Short Reads

District Court Rotterdam upheld the ACM's clearance decision in telecoms merger KPN/Reggefiber

District Court Rotterdam upheld the ACM's clearance decision in telecoms merger KPN/Reggefiber

District Court Rotterdam upheld the ACM's clearance decision in telecoms merger KPN/Reggefiber

02.06.2016 NL law

On 12 May 2016, the District Court of Rotterdam ("District Court") upheld the ACM's decision to allow incumbent KPN B.V. ("KPN") to acquire sole control over Reggefiber Groep B.V. ("Reggefiber") without imposing conditions. The appeal was lodged by Vodafone Libertel B.V. ("Vodafone"), one  of Reggefiber's downstream customers of unbundled access to its fixed fiber-optics network.

In essence, the District Court upheld the ACM's conclusion that regulatory obligations imposed on KPN by the national telecommunications regulator would restrict its ability to significantly impede competition, despite acquiring a market share of "close to 100%".

This case has its roots in an earlier decision adopted by the ACM in 2008, following which KPN and Reggeborgh acquired joint control over Reggefiber, subject to strict remedies. Coinciding with the ACM's 2008 decision, the Dutch telecommunications regulator imposed similar conditions on the joint venture because of KPN's pre-existing position as an undertaking with significant market power ("SMP conditions").

In the case at hand, KPN intended to purchase Reggeborgh's remaining shares in Reggefiber. The ACM cleared the acquisition. This time, however, it did not impose any remedies. Vodafone appealed this decision by arguing, amongst other things, that the ACM had erroneously concluded that SMP conditions can sufficiently remedy the structural competition concerns likely to arise following the concentration.

The District Court rejected this line of argument, upholding the ACM's decision insofar as it found that (existing) SMP conditions imposed on KPN would render it unable to significantly impede competition. The District Court also concluded it was sufficient that the ACM could (and would if necessary) impose an unbundling requirement "should regulation prove to be inadequate".

A noteworthy aspect of the judgment is that the District Court agreed with the ACM's conclusion that the remedies imposed in 2008 would become "devoid of purpose" as a result of KPN's acquisition of sole control, since the original concentration "ceased to exist". According to the District Court, the only manner in which these remedies could have remained binding on KPN would be to explicitly re-impose them in any subsequent concentration.

In summary, the two key takeaways from this fact-specific case are: (i) existing merger control remedies are rendered "devoid of purpose" following subsequent concentrations, and (ii) regulatory obligations can play a significant role in the ACM's assessment of concentrations.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of June 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. General Court rejects Trioplast's action for annulment of a Commission notice to pay interest
  2. Commission blocked Hutchison's proposed acquisition of Telefónica UK
  3. General Court confirmed that German law on renewable energy amounts to State aid
  4. European Commission publishes guidance on the notion of State aid
  5. Rotterdam District Court considered "franchise agreements" in breach of competition law in launderette cartel case
  6. UK High Court held that territorial limits apply to EU cartel damages claims

Team

Related news

09.01.2020 NL law
Deleting WhatsApp chats during dawn raids may cost you dearly

Short Reads - Companies should be aware that the Dutch competition authority (ACM) will not only examine electronic records and emails, but can also check WhatsApp messages during dawn raids. The ACM recently imposed a fine of EUR 1.84 million on a company for non-cooperation with a dawn raid; its highest fine so far for non-cooperation. Several of the company’s employees had left WhatsApp groups and deleted chats before handing over their mobile phones for inspection.

Read more

16.01.2020 NL law
De Amsterdamse milieuzone voor brom- en snorfietsen: voertuigen van een bepaald jaar weren is mogelijk bij ontbreken van een redelijk alternatief

Short Reads - ABRvS 20 november 2019, ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:3865 Deze blog is het vierde deel in een reeks Stibbeblogs over gemeentelijke milieuzones. In 2017 oordeelde de Afdeling over de milieuzone voor personen- en bestelauto’s met dieselmotoren in Utrecht. In 2018 presenteerde de staatssecretaris van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat haar beleid voor harmonisatie van uiteenlopende gemeentelijke milieuzones. Een jaar geleden maakten wij in een FAQ de balans op over de harmonisatie van milieuzones.

Read more

09.01.2020 NL law
Access to the file in Dutch competition procedures: too little too late?

Short Reads - Companies beware: the ACM’s and European Commission’s approach to access to the file are not aligned. According to an interim relief judge, the ACM cannot be forced to grant a company access to a broader set of documents in competition procedures. A potential error in the administrative procedure can be remedied before a court at a later stage. This is different to the right to access to the Commission’s file during administrative procedures, as acknowledged in EU case law.

Read more

10.01.2020 NL law
Is het mededingingsrecht de reddingsboei van zwakke zzp’ers?

Articles - Het toenemende aantal zzp'ers heeft ook mededingingsrechtelijke gevolgen. Volgens de ACM werkt de markt namelijk niet goed als zzp'ers door lage uurtarieven onder het bestaansminimum komen. Jan Truijens Martinez en Simone Evans bespreken in het Tijdschrift voor Arbeidsrecht in Context hoe eventuele belemmeringen die het mededingingsrecht opwerpt bij de bescherming van zzp'ers kunnen worden beperkt en of het mededingingsrecht eigenlijk wel het juiste instrument daarvoor is? 

Read more

09.01.2020 NL law
Competition rules and globalisation to face off in 2020

Short Reads - 2020 will likely revolve around the question whether competition rules should yield to globalisation and digitisation, with suggestions ranging from mere tweaks to competition rules to complementary regulation. Greater cooperation across data protection, consumer protection and competition law appears inevitable. Speedier solutions in more informal settings may become a reality, alongside more frequent use of behavioural remedies.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring