German Ministry for Economics publishes study on modernizing the competition rules on unilateral conduct of companies with market power (2)

We have already featured the release of this report of September 4, 2018, dealing with the digital economy in our news section, see here [Link zur früheren Meldung auf unserer Webseite).  In the meantime, Silke Heinz has summarized the 187 page report and analyzed some of the key messages it provides in a Kluwer Competition Law Blog, see here.

She comments on some of the proposed legislative changes, including the prohibition of unjustified prevention of multihoming and platform switching absent dominance and relative market power in markets characterized by high network effects and prone to tipping, and the changes to merger control rules to allow to prohibit large digital companies systematically buying start-ups as potential future rivals at an early stage of their development.

European Commission opens formal investigation into German car manufacturers

On September 18, 2018, the European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings against German car manufacturers BMW, Daimler and VW, including VW, Porsche and Audi, for possible collusion to avoid competition on the development and roll-out of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars in the EEA (see press release here.

The Commission dropped other discussions among these manufacturers on technical cooperation from the scope of its investigation.  Originally, in 2017 both the FCO and the European Commission reviewed information on the allegations, before the European Commission carried out inspections. Silke Heinz is quoted on the opening of proceedings in Global Competition Review, see here.

German Ministry for Economics publishes study on modernizing the competition rules on unilateral conduct of companies with market power

The Ministry has published the study on September 4, 2018, see here.
The study deals with the question whether there are gaps in the current antitrust rules on unilateral conduct of dominant companies or companies with market power in the digital industry, and if yes, how to close these in Germany.  The study provides a comprehensive overview and excellent analysis of a very up-to-date discussion among antitrust lawyers and economists, as well as some interesting recommendations.  One focus is whether the already existing possibility for the authority in Germany to intervene even below the level of dominance should be expanded, for example in order to prevent the tipping of a digital market.   Silke Heinz is quoted on the study in the Global Competition Review, including on recommended changes to merger control rules, see here.

Joint draft guidelines for new transaction value threshold in Germany and Austria

On May 14, 2018, the competition authorities of Germany and Austria have published joint draft guidelines on the new transaction value merger thresholds for public consultation, see here.

Comments can be submitted by June 8, 2018.  The draft concerns the new merger control thresholds introduced in 2017.  These provide that a transaction may be notifiable if the value of the consideration for a transaction exceeds € 400 million in Germany or € 200 million in Austria, respectively, and the target has significant domestic activities, even if the other turnover-related thresholds are not met.  The draft guidelines deal with interesting issues, such as determining the consideration value (including which point in time is relevant and how to determine the value in case of earn-out clauses or other conditional or future payments), when domestic activity is considered as significant, including in digital markets and concerning R&D activities, as well as other questions.  Silke Heinz has published a blog on the draft guidelines on Kluwer Competition Law Blog, see here.