Brussels 28th November – EU Commission to Investigate ComReg Proposals on NBI Access to Eircom Network.

The EU Commission announced that it is to launch an in-depth investigation into proposals by ComReg that would allow National Broadband Ireland (NBI) access to Eircom’s network at a lower price than other telecoms operators. NBI is responsible for the roll out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP). NBI wishes to access the Eircom network in order to provide broadband services in rural areas. The Commission has expressed concerns that offering NBI access to the network at lower prices than other telecoms operators who also use the network to provide such services would result in higher prices for consumers in areas not covered by the NPB.

Luxembourg 10th November – EU General Court Rejects Google Appeal.

The EU General Court has rejected Google’ appeal against a €2.42 billion fine imposed by the EU Commission for abusing its dominant position. The Court found that, by favouring its own comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favourable display and positioning, while relegating the results from competing comparison services in those pages, Google departed from competition on the merits. The Court found that such behaviour was likely to weaken competition because of (i) the importance of the traffic generated by Google’s general search engine for comparison shopping services; (ii) the behaviour of users, who typically concentrate on the first few results; and (iii) the large proportion of ‘diverted’ traffic in the traffic of comparison shopping services and the fact that it cannot be effectively replaced. The Court upheld the fine imposed by the Commission. Click here to access the Court judgement.

Dublin 20th October – CCPC to conduct full Phase II investigation of Bank of Ireland/KBC Merger

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) announced that it intends to conduct a Phase 2 investigation into the proposed acquisition of certain assets and liabilities of KBC Bank Ireland by Bank of Ireland. Following an extended Phase 1 investigation, the CCPC has decided that a full investigation is necessary to establish if the proposed transaction would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the State. KBC announced in April that it was exiting the Irish market.

London 20th October CMA Fines Facebook £50.5M for Enforcement Order Breach.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined Facebook £50.5m for breaching initial enforcement order (IEO) in relation to its investigation into Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy. IEOs require merging parties not to integrate their activities until the CMA has completed its investigation of a merger. The CMA has imposed the fine because it says that Facebook has failed to provide regular updates outlining its compliance with the IEO, as required by the order despite repeated warnings. It is the first time that the CMA has found that a company has breached an IEO.

Dublin 30th September – CCPC Clears Waste Merger on foot of undertakings

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) announced that it had cleared the proposed acquisition of Exomex by Pandagreen based on undertakings given by Panda to make certain divestments. The CCPC announcement stated that it had certain competition concerns in relation to the transaction but that these had been addressed by the undertakings offered by Pandagreen. Compecon advised Pandagreen in relation to the transaction. The CCPC is due to publish the reasons for its decision within 60 working days of its decision. They may provide interesting reading for business and merger practitioners.

August – Study Analysing Performance of French Soccer Club PSG published in International Journal of Sport Finance.

In 2011 Paris Saint-Germain, one of France’s top soccer clubs, was bought by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). Since then, PSG have dominated French football with a budget way in excess of its rivals. A paper by Compecon Director Patrick Massey and Vincent Hogan of UCD in the latest issue of the International Journal of Sport Finance asks whether the success achieved by PSG represents value for money. While PSG operated close to the production frontier in terms of converting resources to points, i.e., it was relatively efficient, although in several seasons it scored vastly more points (spent vastly more) than was necessary to win Ligue 1. However, at least up to 2016/17, PSG under performed in the Champions League given its budget compared to other teams in the competition. Click here to obtain a copy of the paper.

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