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Consumer protection in the digital economy, more efficient merger procedures, cooperation with undertakings

A number of current hot topics of competition law, such as the challenges created by the digital economy, the renewed merger regime and the opportunities for cooperation with the competition authority, were presented and discussed at the joint event of the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) and the Hungarian Competition Law Association.

In the opening speech of the Hungarian Competition Law Forum, which has now been held for the second time, Juhász Miklós, President of the Hungarian Competition Authority announced that the authority is paying close attention to the phenomena of digital space, with particular regard to their consumer protection aspects. The GVH has been focusing on three main topics this year: addressing the questions arising in connection with the data-based economy through the use of a number of tools available to the competition authority, the client-friendly management of the growing number of merger processes, and the feasible cooperation opportunities existing between the GVH and SMEs.

In his opening presentation, Hegymegi-Barakonyi Zoltán, the president of the Hungarian Competition Law Association highlighted that the digital revolution has led to a paradigm shift in most markets and industries, and also to the creation of new challenges for competition authorities. He stated that it is crucial that law enforcement authorities apply the rules prohibiting competition restriction in competition cases in a way that does not hinder, but rather promotes, the development of technology.

In his introductory presentation the keynote speaker of the conference, Andreas Mundt, President of the German Federal Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt) focused on big data and the data-based economy related anti-competitive behaviours, illustrating with examples cases where data protection and unfair terms of contract issues may be relevant from a competition law perspective.

With the moderation of Paul Csiszár, Director of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition, members of the panel on changes in the merger regime agreed that the purpose of the renewed procedure is to accelerate concentrations which are non-problematic from a competition point of view. The panel also dealt with how the competition authority could proceed more efficiently in those concentration cases that raise competition concerns.

Michiel Denkers, the director of Dutch Competition Authority, spoke in his presentation about the problem solving approach that the Dutch authority applies to market supervision, and how agency effectiveness may be enhanced by using different tools and by creating a culture of cooperation with defendants. Based on the competition law case law of the European Union, Barna Berke, judge of the EU General Court presented about the continuous discussion that is taking place concerning the nature and intensity of judicial review, explaining that although most of the cases of the EU General Court are not competition cases, but the General Court still plays a significant role, when it makes assessment according to the criteria of economic and market competition in other groups of cases.

The possible forms of cooperation with the competition authority, for example through the mechanisms of leniency, settlement, or commitment foster the effective investigation of anti-competitive acts and the effective closure of competition supervisory procedures. Discussing this topic, the panel members agreed that such cooperation could be beneficial to both parties, since it increases the effectiveness of the authority while those who are under the proceeding may face less severe sanctions or, in some cases, may avoid conviction.

From 15 June the presentations of the Hungarian Competition Forum will be available on the GVH website.

Budapest, 15 June 2017.

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email: basa.andrea@gvh.hu
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

 

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email: ugyfelszolgalat@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

 

 

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Market analysis study on the motor vehicle market published by the GVH

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, hereinafter GVH) has published its market analysis study aimed at investigating the functioning of the new passenger car and LCV distribution and repair markets and the related insurance market in Hungary.

As a result of the market analysis, the GVH has recommended that consideration is given to the decrease of certain tariffs related to the registration and maintenance of new motor vehicles and the differentiation of the tariffs related to the registration of used cars.

The GVH has informed the Ministry for National Economy that it recommends (possibly by involving the supervisory authority) the return of the campaign period on the compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance market.

Beside the above-mentioned, the GVH has also made a number of recommendations to the market players: it recommends a closer follow up of the decisions of the GVH and of competition law practice.

The full study is available in Hungarian on the webpage of the GVH

Budapest, 10 May 2017

Gazdasági Versenyhivatal

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA, Spokesperson
H-1054 Budapest, Alkotmány u. 5.
Tel.: (+36-1) 472-8902
Fax: (+36-1) 472-8898
Mobile: +3630 618-6618
Email: basa.andrea@gvh.hu
sajto@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The GVH has once again withdrawn its authorisation of a concentration due to misleading information and has imposed a fine of more than 75 million HUF

The Hungarian Competition Authority has withdrawn its decision in which it authorised Infineon Technologies AG to obtain acquisition of control over Cree Fayetteville, Inc. and for the capacity and radio frequency semiconductor business branch of Cree, Inc. and Cree Sweden AB to become part of Infineon Technologies AG; furthermore, it has imposed a procedural fine of 75 million and 850 thousand HUF due to the misleading and incomplete statements provided by Infineon Technologies AG relating to the markets affected by the concentration

On 10 January 2017 the GVH authorised in 8 days that Infineon Technologies AG could obtain direct and sole control above Cree Fayetteville, Inc.; furthermore, it authorised that the capacity and radio frequency semiconductor business branch of Cree, Inc. and the Cree Sweden AB could become part of Infineon Technologies AG based on the information that was provided in the application by Infineon Technologies AG.

However, the GVH later became aware of the fact that in the competition supervision procedure (No. Vj/1/2017) which was launched as a result of the application of Infineon Technologies AG, the latter mentioned company had supposedly provided incomplete and misleading information relating to the size of the markets affected by the concentration, and consequently also about the market shares of the groups of undertakings affected by the concentration. Therefore the Competition Council of the GVH withdrew its authorisation decision which was made on 10 of January 2017.

Simultaneously with the withdrawal of the decision, the Competition Council of the GVH ordered a full investigation of the concentration, which resulted in a procedural fine of 75 million and 850 thousand HUF being imposed on Infineon Technologies AG. The decision imposing the procedural fine may be appealed.

This is the second proceeding (the first being the case Vj/14/2017) within a short period of time in which the GVH has had to withdraw a previously granted merger authorisation due to the provision of misleading information. In recent years the GVH has made significant efforts in order to be able to provide authorisations as fast as possible in case of concentrations that can be regarded as simple, and to also reduce the administrative burdens faced by undertakings in connection with the concentrations. Nevertheless, in the quest to accelerate merger proceedings, it is also important that such acceleration must not prevail to the detriment of the merger control proceedings, the purpose of which is to enforce the public interest. Given that the GVH makes its decisions about transactions primary based on the data that is supplied by merging parties; the accurate provision of data from clients is of paramount importance. The GVH would again like to highlight the fact that in order to acquire accurate data, since the beginning of 2017, the legislator has empowered the GVH to conduct dawn raids without prior notice in order to avoid infringements related to merger cases. However, in the present case no such down raid was conducted.

Case numbers: Vj/1/2017., Vj/15/2017

Budapest, 2 May 2017

 

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The GVH terminated its proceeding relating to the conduct of Sanofi-Aventis

The Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (GVH – the Hungarian Competition Authority) established in the course of its investigation into the conduct of Sanofi-Aventis Magyarország Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Zrt. (Sanofi-Aventis) that there was no clear evidence of significant adverse consequences to consumers and that the continuation of the investigation was unlikely to lead to results; consequently, the authority terminated its proceedings.

The GVH initiated proceedings against Sanofi-Aventis for the suspected abuse of a dominant position in July 2014 because the GVH became aware of the fact that Sanofi-Aventis had refused to conclude a contract concerning the distribution of pharmaceuticals with a pharmaceutical wholesaler undertaking. Sanofi-Aventis distributes numerous pharmaceuticals that are essential for maintaining a competitive supply portfolio of pharmaceutical wholesalers and it can be presumed that Sanofi-Aventis has a dominant position on the relevant markets of these pharmaceuticals. Based on this presumption, it was suspected that Sanofi-Aventis placed – without justification – certain groups of the market participants in a disadvantageous position against the incumbent market participants i.e. those already present on the market. It was also suspected that when Sanofi-Aventis was selecting its pharmaceutical wholesaler partners it was adopting a practice that was not based on an assessment of the anticipated and actual economic gains resulting from the business relation in question.

In accordance with the Hungarian and the European competition law enforcement practice, harm to consumers’ interests is the precondition of the intervention of the competition authority. In other words, competition law serves to ensure effective competition and benefits for consumers and is not aimed at protecting the mere existence of market players.

However, on the basis of the data gathered in the course of the competition supervision proceeding, there was no clear evidence that the conduct of Sanofi-Aventis could result in significant adverse consequences for consumers, and the GVH therefore terminated its proceeding.

Case number: Vj/61/2014.

Budapest, 18 April 2017.

Hungarian Competition Authority

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

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The Hungarian Competition Authority quantifies the benefits of its activities again

In the period between 2010 and 2016 consumers saved approximately 136 billion HUF thanks to the activity of the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH). The GVH has published, for the third time, an economic analysis to sum up the financial benefits that consumers have received as a result of the protection of competition.

The calculation is based on the price constraining effect of competition: the intervention of the GVH in thwarting anticompetitive conducts and mergers saves the consumers the additional expenditure that they would otherwise face in the absence of such intervention. The methodology, which has previously been reviewed by independent experts, follows the practices of developed countries’ competition authorities, and also relies on the OECD guide on ex-ante impact assessment.

The above-mentioned sum, which shows the consumer savings at 2017 value, is based on a conservative estimation. It considered that, without the intervention of the GVH, for a period of two years the prices would be higher by 5-10 per cent in the case of products and services which are affected by cartels, restrictive conducts and mergers which lead to a significant reduction of competition.

The analysis does not cover the gains achieved from the GVH’s other activities (which include, among others the consumer protection proceedings) or the deterrence effect of proceedings.

The GVH’s calculation clearly shows that the activity of the GVH brings significant savings for society and consumers, savings which significantly exceed the government budget expenditures which were devoted to the GVH.

The full analysis can be found on the GVH’s website.

Budapest, 12 April 2017

Hungarian Competition Authority

 

Information for the press:
Andrea BASA
Spokesperson
Alkotmány u. 5., H-1054 Budapest,
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8902
Mobile: +36 30 6186618
Email:
press@gvh.hu
http://www.gvh.hu

 

Further information:
GVH Customer Service
Tel: (+36-1) 472-8851
Email:
http://www.gvh.hu

 

Printable version in PDF

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