A ‘killer acquisition’ is an acquisition of a potential rival whilst they are still in the early stages of their development, whose turnover is small or zero, in order to eliminate them as a possible source of future competition. Such acquisitions often fly under the radar of EU and national merger regimes which are usually only engaged when the turn-over of a target exceeds a certain threshold. They tend to be a particular problem in digital services where companies try to expand their market share whilst charging nothing or very little to begin with and pharmaceutical companies whose new techniques or medicines may take years to develop and not yield revenue for a significant period of time.

Continue Reading Attack of the Killer Acquisitions

On March 2, 2021, the UK signed a trade partnership agreement with Ghana.  Recently, Cadbury, which is wholly owned by Mondelez, has announced that it is moving some production of its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars from Germany to the UK. This note, which is in two parts, considers the connection between the trade partnership agreement between the UK and Ghana and the relocation of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate production to the UK from the EU and the implications this will have in terms of supply chain management.

Continue Reading Home-Coming of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Bars (Part 1)

The following note highlights certain barriers to free trade flows between the UK and the EU that have arisen in the post-Brexit era, with particular reference to rules of origin and origin procedures. It assesses the consequences these new rules will have in determining market power, influencing supply chain practices, and the application of UK and EU competition law in the future.

Continue Reading EU/UK Trade Post-Brexit: Rules of Origin and Their Impact on Competition Law

This month has so far seen two significant actions taken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division (Antitrust Division) on wage-fixing and no-poach litigation and enforcement matters, which has shed additional light in an enforcement area that has needed it. Over the last few weeks, the Antitrust Division both served up its first indictment in a criminal wage-fixing case, and filed an amicus brief in a “no-poach” case to clarify its view of how the law should be interpreted relating to franchise agreements. Continue Reading A Busy Month for DOJ on No-Poach/Wage-Fixing Enforcement Front

A little over a year after its creation the Procurement Collusion Strike Force has announced its first public indictments.  The Strike Force was created to focus on rooting out collusion and related schemes aimed at impeding competition in public contracting.  As DOJ made clear when the Strike Force was created, DOJ views price-fixing in government contracting as a particularly harmful since it directly harms U.S. taxpayers.  The Strike Force includes prosecutors from both the DOJ Antitrust Division and United States Attorney’s offices, the FBI, and Inspectors General from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration.

Continue Reading US Procurement Collusion Strike Force Issues Its First Indictment

On September 8, 2020, the European Commission (Commission) published its findings of the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption (VBER) and the Vertical Guidelines.

Continue Reading The European Commission’s Findings of the Evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation

(This is a cross-post from Steptoe’s new Investigations and Enforcement Blog.)

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s investigation into price-fixing by generic drug companies continues to remain one of the Antitrust Division’s most active matters. This week the Antitrust Division announced that it had indicted Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. (Teva), the seventh company to reach a resolution with the Antitrust Division in this investigation. Teva is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Continue Reading Another Generic Drug Company Accepts a Criminal Indictment Alleging Collusion

In August 2020 Steptoe’s Antitrust & Competition team in partnership with FTI Consulting hosted two webinars to discuss EU consultations which are likely to affect the regulation of digital space across Europe.

Continue Reading European Commission’s Regulatory Proposals in the Digital Marketplace – The Outcomes of Our Recent Webinar Discussions

On July 14, 2020, the European Commission adopted its 33rd cartel settlement decision: an unusual one involving a purchasing cartel, in the ethylene merchant market.  Four companies were found liable for having colluded for over 5 years to drive down the prices in monthly ethylene merchant bidding markets.  Westlake was the first to apply to the Commission and received immunity from fines (which would have been about Euro 190M). The other three were fined in aggregate Euro 260M.

What are the interesting features of this cartel decision? Continue Reading An Unusual Purchasing Cartel: EU Fines Ethylene Purchasers

On June 22, 2020 the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (Antitrust Division) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that they had signed an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow for more cooperation and communication between the two agencies.

Read more at our Investigations and Enforcement Blog.