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Newsletter: Updates within Competition law

Decision by the Oslo District Court in the Norwegian publishing case

The Oslo District Court has ruled in favour of the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) in the case concerning collective boycott of the distributor Interpress and exchange of competitively sensitive information by the Norwegian publishing houses Cappelen Damm, Aschehoug, Gyldendal and Vigmostad & Bjørke.

In 2017, the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) concluded that the co-operation between the publishing houses had the purpose of restricting competition in the mass market for books, which consists of retail outlets for books that are not traditional bookstores, such as kiosks, grocery stores and gas stations, and issued fines totalling NOK32 million (ranging from 4.56 million (Vigmostad & Bjørke) to NOK9.66 million (Aschehoug)).The decision was later appealed by three of the four publishing houses (all except Vigmostad & Bjørke).

However, the Oslo District Court has found that the fines set by the NCA were too high and has reduced the fines of Gyldendal and Cappelen Damm to NOK5 million (down from NOK9.1 million and NOK7.88 million, respectively) and the fine of Aschehoug to NOK3.5 million.

For the time being it is not known whether the decision will be appealed by any of the publishing houses.

NCA conditionally approves ST1’s acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail Marine

The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) has approved the acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail Marine subject to conditions.

The transaction involves two large and close competitors in the market for sale of marine gas oil from tanking facilities to end users and brokers/resellers. Marine gas oil is mainly used as fuel for various types of ships.

One of the concerns of the NCA regarding the transaction has been the potential for an increase in price for the companies dependent on marine gas oil.

Since the notification was filed with the NCA in December 2017, the NCA has made it clear to the merging parties that long-term remedies allowing for further competition in Stavanger, Tromsø and Harstad have been an absolute prerequisite for the NCA’s approval of the transaction.

The remedies offered by the merging companies include commitments by ST1 to:

NCA to impose record fine on Telenor for abuse of dominance

On 21 June 2018, the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) announced that it will impose a fine of NOK788 million on Telenor for abusing its dominant position in the Norwegian mobile market, in violation of section 11 of the Norwegian Competition Act. This is by far the largest fine ever imposed by the NCA.

The NCA concluded that Telenor created barriers for the development of a third mobile network in Norway. 

Norway has been one of very few countries in Europe with only two mobile operators with own nationwide mobile networks, with Telenor as the dominant player. Mobile operators without their own network have to rent access to either Telenor’s or Telia’s network. Due to the lack of effective competition, Norwegian authorities still regulate the Norwegian mobile wholesale market. Therefore, the development of a third mobile network was key to achieving increased competition in this market.

In 2007, Network Norway started the construction of a third mobile network together with Tele2. During the rollout of the network, Network Norway bought access to Telenor’s network in the areas where the third mobile network did not yet have coverage. In 2010, Telenor changed the conditions in its network access agreement with Network Norway. It is in this regard that Telenor abused its dominant position. Through the new agreement Telenor reduced the cost for the actual use of Telenor’s network, but at the same time introduced a fee that increased with the number of Network Norway’s end users. This fee was a cost that Network Norway could not avoid by increasing the use of its own network. Allegedly, this reduced Network Norway’s incentives to continue the rollout of the third mobile network.

In its decision, the NCA has concluded that Telenor abused its dominant position in the period 2010-2014.

The decision may be appealed to the Complaints Board for competition. 

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Reproduced from Practical Law with the permission of the publishers. For further information visit www.practicallaw.com. 

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