Competition Law News 2009
23 December 2009 - ICN Web Site gets makeover
16 December 2009 - ACCC to oppose Subeam's acquisition of Breville
The ACCC has announced it will oppose the proposed acquisition of Breville by GUD Holdings (which supplies Sunbeam and Emjoi products). Breville (which supplies Breville, Kambrook, Ronson and Philips products) and GUD Holdings are the two largest competitors in small appliances and the ACCC holds the view that a merger between them would substantially lessen competition in relation to thew holesale supply of several categories of small electrical appliances. See ACCC Press Release.
15 December 2009 - NCC Reappointments
Mr David Crawford has been reappointed President of the National Competition Council and Dr Douglas McTaggart, Ms Virginia Hickey and Mr Rodney Sims have been reappointed as Councillors. Each of the appointments are for a three year term, to expire on 18 December 2012. See Press Release.
2 December 2009 - Government asks ACCC to investigate possible anticompetitive petrol pricing
Competition Minister, Dr Emerson MP, has requested that the ACCC investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour 'in the setting of petrol prices in the weekly price cycle'. View media release.
2 December 2009 - ACCC will oppose Caltex's proposed aquisition of Mobil assets
The ACCC indicated it will will oppose the proposed acquisition of Mobil's assets by Caltex. View ACCC Press Release. View Transcript of Graeme Samuel on Lateline discussing the decision.
2 December 2009 - C7 loses appeal
30 November 2009 - Creeping acquisitions back on Agenda
The Senate has referred the private members bill - Trade Practices Amendment (Material Lessening of Competition—Richmond Amendment) Bill 2009 - to the Senate Economics Committee for inquiry and report. It passed (which seems most unlikely) it would replace the current 'substantial lessening of competition' test with a 'material lessening of competition' test and prevent any corporation with substantial market share acquiring shares or assets if the acquisition would have the effect or likely effect of lessening competition (no material effect necessary). Economists will have fun with this one. So will I. Submissions are due by 18 December.
27 November 2009 - Gunns acquisition of ITC Timber approved after modifications made
The ACCC will not challenge Gunns' acquisition of ITC Timber after the parties cmomit to a restructure to address competition concerns. See ACCC Press Release.
27 November 2009 - to replace Neelie Kroes as EU Competition Commissioner
Joaquin Almunia, of Spain, will replace Neelie Kroes as the EU Competition Commissioner. See EC Press Release.
25 November 2009 - ACCC to oppose proposed acquisition of ITC Timber by Gunns
The ACCC has announced its intention to oppose the proposed acquisition of ITC Timber Pty Ltd by Gunnds Ltd after concluding the proposed acquisition would be likely to 'substantially lessen competition in the market for the acquisition of hardwood pulppwood in north-eastern Tasmania'. View ACCC Press Release. View public register for this proposed merger.
23 November 2009 - International Beauty Supplies admits RPM
International Beauty Suppliers admits entering into a contract with distributors containing a clause specifiying that they must sell products at prices published by International Beauty Supplies. They have offered a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC and will write to distributors informing them that they are free to advertise and sell goods at any price they wish. View ACCC Press Release.
13 November 2009 - 'Cartel reform and compliance with the TPA'
Speech by Graeme Samuel at the Australian Corproate Lawyers Association National Conference, Melbourne, 13 November 2009 - view speech.
11 November 2009 - ACCC not to oppose proposed acquisition of Danks by Woolworths
Following the provision of enforceable undertakings from Woolworths and its joint venture partner, Lowe's (a US home improvement retailer), the ACCC has indicated it will not oppose their proposed acquisition of Danks Holdings. Woolworths and Danks plan to develop 'bg box' home improvement stores to compete with other retailers like Bunnings. Danks is a wholesale distributor of hardware products to independent retailers. The ACCC had expresseed concerns the acquisition might facilitate discrimination by the JV against those retailers who would also be their retail competitors. The undertakings provided by the JV have addressed these concerns to the satisfaction of the ACCC. See ACCC Press Release. See also the merger reiew page. View Enforceable Undertakings (large file)
6 November 2009 - Penalties imposed on Australian Karting Association for Price Fixing
The Federal Court has 'ordered declarations, injunctions and penalties against the Australian Karting Association for price fixing and exclusionary conduct in breach of the Competition Code of NSW' - see ACCC Press Release. View court decision.
4 November 2009 - Truck cartel costs Hino dealers $1m
The Federal Court has ordered more than $1m in penalties against two truck retailers and three individuals for price fixing and market sharing between 2005-2006. The parties had admitted their conduct and penalties were agreed. It was also accepted that the individuals did not 'understand the law or the legal consequences of their actions'. See ACCC Press Release.
29 October 2009 - ACCC proposes to allow medical school authorisation
The ACCC is proposing to authorise policies governing graduate-entry selection and interviewing by 11 Australian medical schools. This involves a Preference Policy and One Interview Policy. The Preference Policy provides for the submission of a single application listing medical schools in order of preference. The One Interview Policy provides that applicants will receive only one offer for an interview. The ACCC considers that these policies will produce cost savings for medical schools and for students. The medical schools will still compete for preferences and the policies do not restrict the number of places offer or alter the cost of study, which are determined by the Government. Submissions on the ACCC's draft determination are due by 13 November. See ACCC Press Release.
29 October 2009 - ACCC proposes to authorise rediATM agreements
The ACCC is proposing to 'authorise an agreement between members of the rediATM network not to charge each other's cardholders a fee for transactions undertaken at ATMs owned by any rediATM member' and an agreement to coordinate the ATM rollout. The network consists of almost 100 members, mainly credit unions, and the NAB. The ACCC considers this arrangement will help to ensure 'smaller ATM operators are not at a competitive disadvantage to financial institutions with a larger ATM footprint' and, as a result, considers that it will be pro-competitive. These arrangements are currently operating under an interim authorisation. Submissions on teh draft authorisation are due by 18 November. See ACCC Press Release.
28 October 2009 - ACCC alleges price fixing by Thai Airways
The ACCC today instituted proceedings against Thai Airways alleging it engaged in price fixing for tthe price of fuel surcharges and security surcharges applied to air cargo - Thai Airways is the eleventh airline the ACCC has taken to court for alleged price fixing in relation to air cargo. A directions hearing has been set down for 26 November in Sydney. View press release.
28 October 2009 - ACCC calls for comment on proposed acquisition of ITC TImber Ltd by Gunns Ltd
20 October 2009 - ACCC releases Annual Report 2008-2009
The ACCC's 300+ page annual report is now available from its web site: view ACCC Annual Report 2008-2009.
14 October 2009 - ACCC opposes tax compliance software merger
The ACCC has opposed the proposed acquisition of Ernst & Young's tax compliance software business by Thomson Reuters on the basis that it would 'substantially lessen competition in the markets for the supply of income tax and fringe benefits tax compliance software.' See ACCC Press Release.
2 October 2009 - Singapore Airlines appeal dismissed
The Full Federal Court has dismissed Singapore Airlines' appeal against a decision of Justice Middleton challenging ACCC investigation powers under s 155. The key question was whether 'routes between two points wholly outside Australia could be within a "market in Australia".' In rejecting the appeal, the Full Federal Court held that "prices fixed for legs of a journey which take place wholly outside Australia may ultimately affect competition in a market in Australia". ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, noted that the decision was crucial in that it" 'confirms that the Act is able to reach cartels formed outside Australia affecting Australians. The Full Federal Court has also confirmed that the ACCC is fully able to investigate conduct occurring overseas. Here we are investigating a worldwide market for air cargo services.' View ACCC Press Release.
2 October 2009 - Federal Court of Aust Amendment (Criminal Proceedings) Bill passes
The Federal Court of Australia Amendment (Criminal Proceedings) Act 2009 passed through the House today following amendments made by the Senate on 17 September. This provides jurisdiction for the Federal Court to hear criminal cartel matters.
30 September 2009 - Merger approved conditionally
The ACCC has indicated it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Wyeth by Pfizer after receiving undertakings by Pfizer that it will sell certain Australian animal health assets. The proposed merger is also subject to review by a number of other competition authorities. View ACCC Press Release.
21 September 2009
The ACCC has commenced proceedings alleging that three Queensland construction companies engaged in price fixing when tendering for Government construction projects between 2004 and 2007. View ACCC Press Release
21 September 2009 - EC Releases Provisional Non-Confidential Intel Decision
The European Commission has now released a non-confidential version of its decision in the Intel case (all 518 pages), in which it fined Intel €1.06 billion for abusing its dominant position. View decision. View EC Press Release.
18 September 2009 - Competition in the Grocery Industry
Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, Dr Craig Emerson, today announced and end to restrictive provisions in supermarket leases with shopping centre owners, with most ceasing immediately. See press release.
2 September 2009 - Yet another air freight price fixing allegation
The ACCC today commended proceedings agatinst PT Garuda Indonesia. This follows proceedings instituted againt Emirate in August. Garuda is the tenth airline subject to ACCC proceedings for alleged price fixing in the air cargo industry. See ACCC Press Release.
2 September 2009 - ACCC releases statement of issues in relation to Caltex proposed acquisition of retail assets of Mobil Oil
The ACCC today released a statement of issues in the propsed acquisition of Mobil by Caltex, highlighting a number of competition concerns. Submissions on the statement of issues close on 16 Setpember; the ACCC proposes to announce its findings on 7 October. See merger register page including statement of issues. See ACCC Press Release.
1 September 2009 - Emerson speech: 'Labor is the Party of Competition'
Minister for Competition (among other things), the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, yesterday delivered a speech to the Committee for Eocnomic Development of Australia outlining Labor's approach to competition and consumer policy and proposals for further reform. It includes criticism of the 'Blacktown Amendment' proposed by Senator's Joyce and Xenophon and protectionist policies generally.
26 August 2009 - ACCC opposes Port Botany container park acquisition by POTA NSW
The ACCC has announced that it intends to oppose the acuqisition of container park operator Maritime Container Services by POTA NSW, concluding that the acquistion would 'be likely to substantially lessen competition in the market for empty container parking with access to a rail facility'. A public competition assessment will be available shortly. See ACCC Press Release.
18 August 2009 - ACCC claims Emirates engaged in Price Fixing
As part of their ongoing investigation into the air cargo cartel the ACCC has instituted proceedings against Emirates claiming price fixing during 2002-2006. See ACCC Press Release.
14 August 2009 - ACCC Alleges marine hose cartel
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against four foreign marine hose manufacturers for allegedly giving effect to a global cartel agreement in Australia. It is alleged that 'between 2000 and 2007 Bridgestone (Japan), Dunlop Oil & Marine (UK), Parker ITR (Italy) and Trelleborg (France) engaged in price fixing, market sharing and other anti-competitive conduct when supplying marine hose in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974.' The next directions hearing is scheduled for 25 September 2009. See ACCC Press Release.
12 August 2009 - ACCC calls for comment on proposed plastic packaging acquisition
The ACCC has issued a Statement of Issues ont he proposed acquisition of Huhtamaki Australia Pty Ltd assets by Pact Group Pty Ltd. See ACCC Press Release.
11 August 2009 - ACCC calls for Supermarket reality check
ACCC Chair Graeme Samuel "called for a reality check in the debate around food inflation and the dominance of two players in the grocery market, when he addressed the National Retail Forum in Melbourne today." View press release.
31 July 2009 - Official consolidation of TPA now available
The official consolidation of the TPA incorporating the new criminal cartel laws is now available from ComLaw
29 July 2009 - ACCC grants authorisation for Tasmanian softwood sawlog joint venture
The ACCC has 'accepted that the Softwood Tasmania Joint Venture arrangements provide greater access to capital resulting in the continued growth and development of Tasmanian forestry assets' and has therefore granted authorisation for 10 years; the JV has been operating since 1999. See ACCC Press Release.
The new cartel laws, including associated criminal penalties, enter into operation today.
23 July 2009 - Consolidated TPA
In the absence of an official consolidation of the TPA incorporating the new cartel conduct offences and civil prohibitions I have put together my own consolidation - you can download or view it here.
21 July 2009 – ACCC does not oppose FoodWords proposed acquisitions
The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition by Foodwords of 45 supermarkets and eight related liquor stores from Westfarmers, concluding it is unlikely the merger will substantially lessen competition in the relevant markets. See Press Release.
The ACCC today released new guidelines detailing its approach to cartels under the new laws which come into operation on 24 July. See (1) ACCC Press Release (2) ACCC Cartel Guidelines (3) ACCC Updated Immunity Guidelines.
10 July 2009 – Samuel reminds business of the consequences of the new cartel law
ACCC Chief, Graeme Samuel, hit the airways yesterday to warn of the new criminal cartel laws and inform corporate executives that for serious cartel activity 'no matter how fat your cheque book, nor to what lengths a corporation will go to defend the position of its executives, there is no amount of money that will remove the risk of you going to gaol ... A criminal cartel prosecution will not be negotiable – you will not be able to buy your way out of a criminal conviction and gaol.' See ACCC News Release.
7 July 2009 – ACCC releases notice on new cartel law
The ACCC has released a two page notice outlining the new cartel law. View ACCC Notice.
3 July 2009 – Patrick and P&O fined for price fixing
The Federal Court has approved a $3.8m price-fixing fine against several former Patrick companies and P&O Ports. The ACCC claimed the companies had colluded in 2001 when agreeing to share certain wharf facilities in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The ACCC did not propose any penalties against Chris Corrigan and other directors in respect of their alleged involvement. Justice Jacobson took into account the fact that no customers had complained about the conduct when he approved the fine, which he said helped distinguish this conduct f'from the clandestine behaviour which is at the heart of price-fixing cartel's'. View the decision at AustLII.
2 July 2009 – ACCC alleges price fixing and market sharing by Qld truck retailers
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Vanderfield Pty Ltd, Sci-Fleet Motors Pty Ltd and several individuals alleging price fixing and market sharing in the sale of trucks. See ACCC Press Release.
1 July 2009 - Revised Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct
The ACCC has released a Revised Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct and associated interpretation guidelines. They will come into operation when the new cartel provisions come into force on 24 July 2009. In addition to setting out the process for obtaining immunity for civil cartel conduct the new policy sets out the procedures for obtaining immunity in relation to criminal cartel offences, including the role of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) (see, in particular, Annexure B of the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.
The Criminal Cartel Bill received Royal Assent on 26 June 2009 - it is now an Act (Act no 59 of 2009) and the cartel provisions will enter force after 28 days (24 July)
1 July 2009 - Unit Pricing Implemened
The new Unit Pricing Code came into operation today and larger supermarkets and online retailers must comply by 1 December. The ACCC today released a guide to assist grocery retailers. The Code requires placement of the cost of a standard unit of measurement against the selling price of the item (eg, price per litre or per 100g). See also ACCC Page on Unit Pricing
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Cabcharge alleging misuse of market power in providing non-cash taxi fare payment processing services and taxi specific payment products and also that it has entered into in anticompetitive argeements contrary to section 45 of the TPA. See ACCC Press Release.
22 June 2009 - ACCC institutes proceedings against DRS C3 Systems
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against DRS C3 Systems, alleging cartel conduct in the international military defence training systems industry. The claims relate to an alleged market sharing agreement, pursuant to which DRS would 'withdraw from a proposed procurement of an air combat manoeuvring instrumentation (ACMI) system by the Commonwealth of Australia'. See ACCC Press Release.
17 June 2009 - ACCC does not oppose Woolworths' acquisition
The ACCC has indicated it will not opposed Woolworths' proposed acquisition of organic supermarket 'Macro Wholeoods Market', concluding it is unlikely the merger will substantially lessen competition in the relevant organic food and grocery markets. See press release and ACCC Mergers Register.
The senate amendments to the Criminal Cartel Bill were agreed to by the House of Representatives today. The bill is now awaiting assent; the operative provisions will come into operation 28 days after tbe bill receives assent.
The Criminal Cartel Bill has passed through the Senate with 20 amendments.
12 June 2009 - Deadline for Creeping Acquisitions extended
The Deadline for submission relating to the second government creeping acquisition discussion paper, 'The Way Forward' has been extended from 12 June to 10 July.
12 June 2009 - Janome admits RPM
Janome Australia Pty Ltd, a wholesaler of sewing and quilting machines etc, and its managing director have admitted engaging in resale price maintenance (RPM) between February and April 2008. The conduct in question involved Janome seeking to impose a Minimum Advertised Price Policy on its retailers, prohibiting them from advertising products at any price lower than that set by Janome. Following concerns raised about the conduct by the ACCC, Janome ceased the conduct and offered court enforceable undertakings. It has admitted the contravention and undertaken not to engage in the similar conduct in the future. Janome will also: "* implement and maintain a trade practices law compliance program for three years * write to all its retailers advising them of its conduct and that it has breached the Act * publish a corrective notice on its website, and * publish a full page corrective notice in Australian Stitches and Embroidery and Cross Stitch magazines." See ACCC Press Release.
11 June 2009 - ACCC institutes Price Fixing action against Aust Karting
The ACCC alleges the Australian Karting Association (NSW) Inc (AKA) and various AKA clubs and officers contravention the Competition Code of New South Wales by making an agreement to 'charge minimum fees for the hire of their circuits to non-AKA operators, with all negotiations for circuit hire to be conducted by the AKA'. The ACCC is seeking a declaration that the conduct contravened the Code, injunctions, penalties and orders that AKA implement a trade practices compliance program. See ACCC Press Release.
10 June 2009 - EC Fines Electrobel 20 million for merging without obtaining approval
The EU Merger Regulation requires parties to notify the EC of proposed acquisitions meeting certain threshold requirements. Electrobel failed to notify the EC before acquiring control of Compagnie Nationale du Rhone. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes described this as a 'serious breach of the Merger Regulation' and noted that the decision would send a 'clear signal that the Commission will not tolerate breaches of this fundamental rule of the EU merger control system'. The EC was notified of the merger post-acquisition and cleared it in April 2008.The fine for failing to notify takes account both of the seriousness of the breach in circumstances where Electrobel ought to have known of its notification obligations and also the fact that the transaction did not in fact give rise to competition concerns and that it was subsequently notified by Electrobel. See EC Press Release.
8 June 2009 - Craig Emerson takes over as Competition and Consumer Affairs Minister
Following Chirs Bowen's promotion to Cabinet, Craig Emerson will take control of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Portfolio.
3 June 2009 ACCC Authorises Collective Bargaining by Vic Lottery Agencies
The ACCC has granted authorisation for Victorian lottery agents 'to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of their contracts with teh two companies licensed to operate lotteries in Victoria, Tattersall's and Intralot'. The Lottery Agents' Association of Victoria will represent members who wish to participate in these collective negotiations. See Press Release.
28 May 2009- Outcry over possibly Caltex acquisition of Mobil sites
Caltex has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 302 Mobil service station sites. The media is buzzing. The parties have not yet made a clearance submission to the ACCC but the ACCC will commence informal review once they are received.
"Telstra has an ongoing obligation to provide Optus with regulated access to its copper network in all areas of Australia, following a decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal." (see ACCC Press Release). Telstra's exemption application was rejected by the Tribunal which held that such a discriminatory access policy, which provided access to all but Optus, would "be likely to seriously hamper the achievement of long-term dynamic efficiency and sustainable full facilities-based competition." See full Tribunal Decision.
The government today released a second discussion paper relating to the introduction of creeping acquisition laws in Australia. In the first discussion paper the government put forward two possible models; the ‘aggregation model’ and the ’substantial market power model’ (SMP) which would prohibit mergers by firms having substantial market power which would have ANY effect on competition. The second discussion paper dismisses the aggregation model option and favours a modified substantial market power model. Submissions are due on 12 June. See related blog entry.
The Federal Magistrates Court will be scrapped in a bid to save costs and speed up processes. All Federal Matters will now be heard in the Federal Court. The newly structured Federal Court will operate in two tiers, with appeals ‘and other complex work’ generally being heard in the first tier by Federal Court judges and less complex matters being heard at the second tier, which will be operated by the Magistrates currently working in the Federal Magistrates Court (who will still be called Magistrates). It is unclear whether competition law matters will be capable of being heard at both tiers or (more appropriately) just in the first tier. See AG Press Release.
This time the ACCC have instituted proceedings against Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd for alleged price-fixing arising from the global air cargo cartel. It is alleged that Cathay Pacific entered into over 70 arrangements with other air cargo carriers between 2000 and 2006 which involved the fixing of price for a 'fuel surcharge, a security surcharge and rathes that were applied to air cargo ...'. A directions hearing is set for 28 May. Cathay Pacific is the eighth airline subject to ACCC proceedings for 'fuel surcharge price fixing'. See press release.
30 April 2009 - UK issues new draft Merger Guidelines
The Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commisssion have issued draft joint 'Merger Assessment Guidelines' for consultation until 7 August 2009. See Press Release.
29 April 2009 - ACCC Comments on Pratt Proceedings
Now that the charges against Mr Pratt have been discontinued, the ACCC has released a comment about its role in the proceedings. View Press Release.
27 April 2009 - Charges against Pratt discontinued
The ACCC and DPP today discontinued charges laid against Pratt arising from allegations he gave false or misleading information under oath the the ACCC in relation to the Visy/Amcor cartel. This followed a ruling by the Federal Court held that key evidence was inadmissible.
7 April 2009 - Access Regime Reform
Chris Bowen MP (Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) today announced that he had commenced consultation with States and territories on reforms to the National Access Regime which aim to 'improve the efficiency, timeliness and effectiveness of regulatory decision-making' under Part III of the TPA. Legislation to amend the Regime is expected to be introduced in mid-2009, following the consultation process. View press release.
3 April 2009 - Challenge to ACCC enforcement powers dismissed by Federal Court
The Federal Court today dismissed claims by Singapore Airlines and Emirates that challenged the validity of compulsory notices issued by the ACCC pursuant to s 155 of the TPA requiring production of documents relating to investigations into the international air cargo cartel. See ACCC Press Release.
17 March 2009 - RPM Penalties imposed
The Federal Court has imposed penalties of $210,000 against Telwater and $28,000 against one of its directors for engaging in (and being knowingly concerned in) resale price maintenance conduct in relation to the supply of of aluminium boats. The orders were made by consent and declaration orders, injunctions and costs were also ordered against Telwater. The agreed penalty took into account cooperation offered by Telwater in resolving the matter and the fact they had voluntarily stopped the conduct and initiated a trade practices compliance program after concerns were raised by the ACCC about their conduct. See ACCC Press Release.
26 February 2009 - Senate Cartel Report released
The Senate Economics Committee has now released its report into the Government's criminal cartel bill, introduced into Parliament late last year. The Committee recommended that the Senate pass the bill without alteration. They also recommended the ACCC produce guidelines (after the passage of the legislation) setting out what type of conduct was likely to be treated as criminal. View Report.
23 February 2009 - Authorisation news (Cosmetics, David Jones and Coal Terminal)
The ACCC proposes to deny authorisation for a Cosmetic Surgery Code of Practice, believing that in its current 'underdeveloped' form it does not provide sufficient public benefit to outweight the likely anticompetitive detriment (view ACCC Press Release and Authorisation page). The ACCC has also proposed to deny authorisation for a 'queue management system at Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal' (view ACCC Press Release and Authorisation page). The ACCC has, however, granted authorisation to David Jones 'to continue to invite retail brand management businesses operating within its stores to participate in certain promotions such as storewide and department-wide discounts' until March 2012 (view ACCC Press Release and David Jones Authorisation page).
18 February 2009 - ACCC does not oppose proposed acquisition of Hans Continental Smallgoods by Primo
The ACCC considered that Hans was a 'failing firm' and would cease training if not acquired by Primo. In the circumstances they did not consider that the acquisition would SLC. The ACCC's position on the competitive effects of the merger would hav ebeen different had Hans not been in 'imminent danger of failing'. See ACCC Press Release.
17 February 2009 - The Australian Competition and Consumer Act?
In a speech delivered to the Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies entitled Australian Consumer Law - The Future Chris Bowen MP proposes - among other things - renaming the Trade Practices Act the ‘Australian Competition and Consumer Act’
16 February 2009 - Shepparton Taxi Company fined for Price Fixing
The Shepparton taxi industry (White Top Taxis Ltd) has been found guilty of operating an anti competitive roster system for decades. Justice Finkelstein in the Federal Court in Melbourne has ordered total penalties of $77,000 and a declarations that 'from October 2003 to 18 June 2008, the directors and Mr Groves (a driver) were party and gave effect to an arrangement or understanding (between themselves and other operators of taxi-cabs who were members of or affiliated with White Top Taxis) that allocated shifts under a roster' and contained a provision that 'White Top Taxi cabs whose taxis were the subject of the roster, would not operate their taxi cab during other times' (see ACCC Press Release).
16 February 2009 - Airlines fined for cartel conduct
Justice Lindgren has ordered four airlines to pay a total of AU$16 for price fixing in relation to air freight. The parties - Société Air France (Air France), Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij NV (KLM), Martinair Holland NV (Martinair) and Cargolux International Airlines S.A. (Cargolux) - admitted the conduct and the fines are in accordance with that requested by the ACCC and agreed to by the parties (see also 10 February). Combined with fines already imposed on Qantas and British Air, the total penalties imposed against this cartel currently stands at $41m. See ACCC News Release.
13 February 2009 - India Competition Commission news
The Indian Competition Commission is expected to become operational on 1 April 2009, beginning with a chairpoerson and four-five members. This will replace the existing Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC). See Financial Press news item. Visit Indian Competition Commission website.
11 February 2009 - ACCC opposes proposed acquisition of Bartter Enterprises
The ACCC will oppose the proposed acquisition of Bartter Enterprises by Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd, concluding that the merger would 'be likely to substantially lessen competition in the markets for the supply of processed chicken meat'. See ACCC News Release. See also ACCC Merger Review page for this proposed merger.
10 February 2009 - Proceedings instituted against four more airlines in relation to air freight cartel
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in Sydney against Air France, KLM, Martinair and Cargolux, alleging they engaged in price fixing between 2003 and 2006. All airlines have made admissions and have consented to remedies sought by the ACCC, amounting to a total of AU$16m. The matter will be heard before Justice Lindgren on Monday 16 February. See ACCC News Release.
4 February 2009 - Oceanic Diving admits RPM
Suba diving wholesaler, Oceanic Diving Australia Pty Ltd, has admitted engaging in RPM in relation to certain Oceanic goods. The ACCC has accepted court-enforceable undertakings in relation to this conduct. See ACCC News Release.
27 January 2009 - Authorisation denied for cooperation agreement between Air New Zealand and Air Canada
The ACCC has now denied authorisation for this agreement - this follows their proposal to deny authorisation on 20 November 2008. The ACCC were not convinced that the joint promotion and revenue sharing proposal for flights between Sydney and Vancouver and Auckland and Vancouver would result in sufficient public benefits to outweight the likely anticompetitive detriment. See ACCC Press Release. See authorisation register .
23 January 2009 - ACCC institutes RPM action against Telwater
The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Telewater Pty Ltd. The ACCC allege Telewater - which manufactures and distributes aluminium boats - engaged in RPM in contravention of s 48 of the TPA by making it known to dealers that they could not advertise certain products below a specified price - the 'brochure price'. Read press release.
15 January 2009 - US: Four Foreign-based executives to plead guilty to LCD price fixing
Executives from LG Display Co Ltd and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd have agreed that they will plead guilty in the US (and serve jail time) for their involvement in a global price fixing conspiracy relating to the sale of TFT-LCD panels - which (based on 2006 figures) has a worldwide market of approx $70 billion. These agreemends follow LG pleading guilty to participation in the conspiracy in December 2008 (for which they were fined US$400m - second largest US Antitrust fine in history) and Chunghwa pleading guilty to their participation in the consipracy yesterday. Sharp Corp had also pleaded guilty to being involved in fixing prices of TFT-LCD panels they supplied. Read the press release from the US Department of Justice.
8 January 2009 - Discussion paper on the meaning and proof of 'understanding' released
Chris Bowen MP has released a discussion paper calling for submissions on the meaning and proof of the term 'understanding' in the TPA. This follows concerns raised by the ACCC in the petrol inquiry that courts had, in recent times, narrowed the meaning of 'understanding' and that they had set a 'high evidentiary bar' for proving the existence of an understanding. Submissions are due by 31 March 2009. Click here for the discussion paper and more information about the inquiry.