The Competition Authority recently introduced a number of new bylaws. The bylaws aim to regulate short-form procedures on the assessment of concentrations, commitment procedures and the administration of electronic data during Competition Authority inspections.
The Competition Authority recently carried out a dawn raid at the premises of N Sport and acquired copies of agreements that the company had entered into with its customers. The agreements contained provisions obliging customers and retailers to comply with minimum retail prices set by N Sport when reselling their products. The concerned undertakings are at risk of severe fines of up to 10% of the total turnover generated in 2015, while the agreements could be declared null and void.
During 2015 the Competition Authority issued 68 decisions concerning merger control, the abuse of dominant positions and state aid and 32 opinions concerning competition law and state aid law. Further, the authority issued a number of significant fines in decisions relating to cartels and the abuse of dominant positions. Taking into account the available human and financial resources, the authority is satisfied with the results achieved in 2015.
The Competition Authority recently adopted a decision conditionally clearing an acquisition in the sugar market in Serbia. As the resulting market share aggregation in the affected markets ranges from 60% to 80%, the Competition Authority recommended the introduction of operational requirements and restrictions to prevent any negative effects resulting from market saturation.
The Competition Authority recently initiated ex officio proceedings against MIKA KORÇA JSC. MIKA KORÇA holds a dominant position on the tobacco market as the sole Albanian company exporting tobacco products and the only purchaser of tobacco from farmers. The authority has established that the prices at which farmers sell tobacco does not cover their high production costs, and that the average price paid by MIKA KORÇA is lower than the average price paid in the European Union.
The Competition Authority recently published a statement clarifying the rules on submitting a merger notification based on the serious intent to implement a transaction (eg, a letter of intent). The authority pointed out that, when notifying a concentration on the basis of serious intent, the undertakings concerned assume the risk of any consequence that may result. If a letter of intent differs from the final agreement entered into by the parties following the authority's decision, they risk incurring a fine.
In 2015 the Competition Authority issued 51 decisions addressing, among other things, restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance. Of 50 complaints submitted that year, 22 related to the electronic communications market. The authority often faces delays in court proceedings and 2015 was no exception, with six commission decisions appealed before the court.
The Competition Commission has adopted new guidelines on a simplified form and procedure for assessing merger notifications for transactions which raise no competition concerns. In order to increase transparency, on receipt of notification the commission will publish the basic information regarding the concentration on its official website. This will allow interested parties to submit their comments and observations.
The Competition Authority recently investigated alleged abuse of dominance in the railway traffic market by state-owned railway company Zelezice Srbije. The authority determined that Zelezice Srbije was the only company operating railway traffic in the country and thus took measures to secure the establishment of effective competition in the market for access to public railway infrastructure.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently hosted several competition events, demonstrating its determination to cooperate with other competition authorities. So far this year, commission representatives took part in the Eighth Sofia Competition Forum, visited the Romanian Competition Authority and co-organised an international conference on institution building between the national competition authorities of Southeast Europe.
The Competition Authority recently adopted the Fine Leniency Programme, which elaborates on the leniency rules set out in the Competition Law. The programme details the procedure for applying for and granting leniency for the full or partial reduction of fines. The programme explains that any undertaking which initiates a cartel cannot benefit from the leniency proceedings.
The Competition Authority recently conducted a dawn raid on the Belgrade premises of Philip Morris and British American Tobacco on the suspicion that competition infringement had occurred. The authority also initiated ex officio procedures, as it suspected that the companies had conspired in order to align prices. This is the authority's second dawn raid involving the tobacco market.
The Competition Authority recently investigated four companies for bid rigging in a tender organised by the Ministry of Defence for the procurement of uniforms and shoes in 2013. It fined them a total of approximately €300,000 and prohibited them from participating as bidders in public procurement for the next 18 months.
The Competition Authority recently adopted new guidelines on merger control conditions and obligations intended to comply with EU regulations. The authority also recently approved a concentration in the financial leasing market and announced an investigation into the banking sector to assess whether competition is being limited or distorted as a result of the behaviour of one or more banks.
The Competition Authority recently launched several competition law infringement investigations, including an investigation against Belgrade's public utility company Infostan. Without having consulted the service receivers, Infostan included costs for insurance in a monthly invoice. Accordingly, the authority began an investigation, alleging that Infostan had abused its dominant position.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition recently published its 2014 annual report, in which it outlines the developments of the previous year. The commission issued 41 decisions in administrative proceedings, four opinions under the Competition Act and 19 opinions under the State Aid Control Act. It also decided 10 cases in misdemeanour proceedings and imposed fines totalling Md233,530,047.
The Competition Authority has cleared leading pharmaceutical company Hemofarm's acquisition of family business Ivančić i sinovi, even though Hemofarm is expected to slightly increase its market share. The authority has also cleared Antenna Stream TV Limited Kipar's acquisition of Lake Blade Holding; both parties operate in the media market.
The Commission for Protection of Competition recently issued two decisions in proceedings against East Media Group (EMG) because of a reasonable assumption that a transaction had been implemented without obtaining merger control clearance. The commission fined EMG for failure to comply with its order to deliver the data and documentation required for the transaction's assessment.
In a decision that could have significant implications on future practice, the Competition Authority recently reviewed non-compete obligations between parties to a merger. The concentration was cleared unconditionally. However, the non-compete obligations were considered to be severe restrictions of competition and the authority refused individual exemptions.
The Commission for Protection of Competition has recently issued two conditional merger clearances concerning international transactions. The Holcim and Lafarge transaction resulted in a significant overlap between the parties' activities in the Serbian cement market, while the transaction between Alitalia and Etihad Airways involved the acquisition of joint control over a newly founded company that would control Alitalia's aviation business.