Competition & Antitrust, Bulgaria updates

Competition Commission sends statements of objection for abuse of dominant position
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • November 02 2017

The Competition Commission recently sent statements of objection for abuse of dominant position by three electricity distribution and supply companies. According to the commission, allegations were made that the companies had traded information regarding customers switching from the regulated market to the liberal market in order to purposely stall the necessary paperwork.

Competition Commission fines Sofia Commodity Exchange for unfair competition
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • October 26 2017

A recent competition breach by the Sofia Commodity Exchange AD resulted in a 0% fee for purchasers (ie, members of the exchange). The Supreme Administrative Court and the Competition Commission both held that the lack of fees had placed purchasers in a more favourable position, leading to unfair competition which contradicted good-faith practices. In addition to a fine based on the net turnover of sales, the commission ordered the immediate suspension of the exchange's breaching activities.

CPC opinion on draft act for amendment of Administrative Procedure Code
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • August 17 2017

The Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently adopted an opinion on the draft act for the amendment of the Administrative Procedure Code. The CPC supports the introduction of electronic justice which, in its view, will increase the efficiency of the judiciary system and prevent unnecessary delays. However, it disagrees with the increase in state fees and the proposal that the state fee for cassation is to be defined as a percentage of the imposed penalty.

Remedies imposed on fuel companies following cartel investigations
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • May 25 2017

For the second time in less than five years the Commission for the Protection of Competition has opened investigation proceedings regarding prohibited agreements and concerted practices against the major fuel companies in Bulgaria and closed them without issuing penalties. An investigation was launched and the commission found that the retail price of some petrol companies in Bulgaria does not always follow the wholesale price and producers' prices.

Abuse of stronger bargaining power
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • February 16 2017

The Competition Protection Commission recently fined Kaufland Bulgaria EOOD for abuse of stronger bargaining power regarding its supplier, Keti-94 OOD. This is the second commission decision relating to abuse of bargaining power – a concept introduced into Bulgarian legislation in July 2015. The commission found Kaufland's breach to be severe and imposed a 7% fine generated from Kaufland's turnover on the market for sales of low-priced alcohol.

Commission for Protection of Competition conducts sector analysis of insurance market
Advokatsko druzhestvo Stoyanov & Tsekova in cooperation with Schoenherr
  • Bulgaria
  • December 15 2016

The Commission for Protection of Competition recently conducted a sector analysis of the competition environment in Bulgaria's insurance market. The main purpose of the report was to provide insight into the insurance market and specify potential competition issues. It is expected that strategies, programmes and plans to improve the insurance environment will be adopted in the future by the relevant bodies.

First decision on 'abuse of stronger bargaining power'
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • September 22 2016

The Commission for the Protection of Competition has fined Siemens EOOD for abuse of stronger bargaining power. Given the abstract wording of the term 'abuse of stronger bargaining position' in the Competition Protection Act and the lack of any methodology or instructions regarding its application, the commission's decision should be considered as initial guidance on how it will interpret the term in future.

Election of new Competition Protection Commission panel
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • July 28 2016

The National Assembly has elected a new Competition Protection Commission panel. Despite the old panel's mandate coming to an end, the commission has showed an impressive level of antitrust activity. In May 2016 the commission issued several statements of objection against key players in the electricity production, wholesale and distribution markets, as well as opening an investigation into prohibited practices against a number of retail chains.

Competition Protection Commission issues statement of objection to electricity distributor
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • May 12 2016

The Competition Protection Commission recently issued a statement of objection to Energo Pro Grid AD for abuse of its dominant position. The commission's investigation focused on Energo Pro's refusal to connect Kayko OOD's production site to the electricity distribution grid. However, in a press release, the commission did not clarify why Energo Pro's refusal to connect Kayko is considered to be unjustified.

Abuse of dominant position – commission issues statement of objection
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • February 11 2016

The Competition Protection Commission recently issued a statement of objection against Aurubis Bulgaria AD and Aurubis AG. The commission has accused Aurubis of abuse of its dominant position in the Bulgarian market for the production and sale of sulphuric acid and for discriminating against its Bulgarian customers in favour of international clients.

Competition Protection Commission penalises Uber for unfair acts
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • October 22 2015

The Competition Protection Commission (CPC) recently fined Uber BV and Rasier Opеrаtions BV for unfair trade practices committed through their provision of the UberX service and ordered them to cease the unfair practices. The CPC decision established that both companies had offered taxi services that failed to comply with the legal requirements for taxi transport, giving them an unfair advantage over their competitors.

Competition Protection Commission opens pharmaceutical sector inquiry
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • July 30 2015

The Competition Protection Commission recently announced that it had opened a pharmaceutical sector inquiry. According to the announcement, the subject of the inquiry is the retail trade of pharmaceuticals which are paid (fully or partially) by the National Health Insurance Fund. If the commission finds any individual anti-competitive behaviour, it will open antitrust proceedings against the undertakings involved.

Commission issues statement of objection to telecoms company
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • April 02 2015

The Competition Protection Commission recently issued a statement of objection to Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) for abuse of dominant position. Proceedings were commenced based on BTS's unilateral cancellation of an agreement for termination of telecommunication networks. BTC has the right to oppose the statement of objection within 30 days.

Competition Protection Commission investigates insurance sector
Advokatsko druzhestvo Stoyanov & Tsekova in cooperation with Schoenherr
  • Bulgaria
  • January 22 2015

The Competition Protection Commission recently initiated an inquiry into Bulgaria's insurance sector, which will define competition problems and the reasons for them. The commission will publish its findings, which should be used as a platform for public discussion of the identified problems.

Commission conducts dawn raids for suspected bid rigging
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • November 06 2014

Following a complaint by the Ministry of Finance, the Competition Protection Commission opened an investigation against three companies suspected of involvement in a bid-rigging cartel. During dawn raids at offices of two of the companies, the commission discovered information relating to price formation which gave it reason to suspect that the companies had entered into a prohibited agreement.

Commission fines public natural gas supplier for abuse of dominant position
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • September 04 2014

The Competition Protection Commission has fined Bulgargaz over €11 million for abuse of dominant position. Bulgargaz conducted different exploitative practices, including forcing clients to extend the term of their contracts without the option to negotiate the contract provisions.

Commission accuses electricity distributors of abuse of dominant position
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • July 03 2014

The Competition Protection Commission recently accused Bulgaria's three energy distributors of abuse of dominant position. According to the commission, the companies determined and imposed unjustified high prices for access to their low-voltage distribution networks for television, internet and telephone services, thus restricting competition on the relevant markets.

Public supplier of natural gas accused of abusive market behaviour
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • April 17 2014

The Competition Protection Commission recently presented a statement of objection to Bulgargas EAD. The commission claimed that Bulgargas had abused its dominant position in the natural gas supply market by imposing unfair trade conditions in the contracts for public supply. It held that Bulgargas's market behaviour was exploitative towards its customers.

Competition Protection Commission fines Energy Pro Grids
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • February 20 2014

The Competition Protection Commission recently fined Energy Pro Grids AD – the electricity distribution company for Northeastern Bulgaria – for abuse of dominant position. The commission held that Energy Pro Grids' conduct impeded competition on the upstream renewable energy electricity market.

Competition Protection Commission imposes further penalty on electricity sector
Schoenherr Attorneys at Law
  • Bulgaria
  • December 12 2013

The Competition Protection Commission recently imposed a penalty on Energy Pro Grids AD for disproportionate management of production capacities. The commission found that Energo Pro was obliged to limit electricity production when so ordered by the system operator. However, Energo Pro allocated the limitations using non-transparent and discriminatory criteria, putting other electricity producers at a disadvantage.

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