No-poach and wage-fixing agreements – arrangements between companies seeking to prevent or limit the hiring of each other’s employees, or to suppress the wages and/or benefits of their respective current employees are not only currently under the spotlight in the US, but have also been subject to scrutiny by antitrust authorities in the European Union

Despite the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the EU Vertical Agreement Block Exemption Regulation (retained VABER) continues to offer a safe harbor with respect to potentially anti-competitive vertical or supply agreements with an effect on trade within the UK. In this Alert, Steptoe’s EU Competition Team analyses the UK Competition and Market Authority’s recently issued

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

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

The General Court has annulled the European Commission’s decision of May 11, 2016, in which it blocked the proposed acquisition of Telefonica UK (O2) by Hutchison 3G UK (Three). The General Court found that the Commission failed to prove that the merged company would harm competition or raise prices and that it had made several errors of law and assessment in its review. While the ruling will be welcomed by the telecoms industry that continues to consolidate, the General Court’s guidance on the EU Merger Control Regulation will be relevant for other mergers and acquisitions, particularly in oligopolistic markets (e.g. four-to-three transactions) where the merger does not result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position.

Continue Reading The General Court Clarifies the Legal Test and Evidentiary Burden to Support Prohibition of Acquisitions under EU Merger Control Regulation

On June 2, 2020, the European Commission opened a public consultation to seek views on the contents of the Digital Services Act (DSA), an ambitious legislative package intended to regulate digital markets in EU.

The European Commission will be seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on issues like online safety, freedom of expression,