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Sub practice
Sub practice

Sector regulation, monopolisation and market investigations

Companies with strong market positions may also be subject to individual investigations, which could affect the operation of the business and lead to severe sanctions.

Sector/market regulation is an increasingly important means for authorities to regulate competition and enforce antitrust rules. Companies increasingly face the risk that their industry as a whole will be closely scrutinised. This could result from a wide-ranging sector inquiry by the European Commission, or a market or regulatory investigation at national level carried out by a competition agency or sector regulator (or both). We have advised in relation to a number of market studies and market investigations carried out by the European Commission and national competition authorities.

Recent inquiries have spanned a broad range of industries: pharmaceuticals, financial services, telecommunications, building materials, insurance and pay-TV. In the past year, the European competition authorities have initiated some high-profile investigations in the technology sector at the intersection between competition laws and IP rights. Our team has been involved in many of these cases, and can advise on:

  • strategy for dealing with authorities, who will expect (and often compel) industry players to provide detailed commercial information
  • preparing submissions, briefing papers, and responses to information requests
  • negotiating commitments to address authorities' concerns

Within a particular sector, companies with strong market positions must carefully consider the impact of their conduct. Any abuse of a monopoly or dominant position can carry severe penalties which may reach hundreds of millions of euros or dollars. It is also an issue high on many antitrust authorities' enforcement priorities, as seen by the recent investigation into Google which has attracted attention of agencies around the globe. We have a strong record of helping companies to navigate this complex area, acting for both complainants and companies under investigation.

Specific sector regulators may be consulted on, or even in some countries lead, antitrust investigations. Complex networks of regulation may apply across jurisdictions. Our team has expertise in dealing with sector regulators and has wide experience of advising on cases involving parallel antitrust and regulatory review processes. We guide companies through the regimes involved, helping to develop coordinated responses and strategies.

News & insights

Abstract image of metal

Publications: 13 JANUARY 2020

The von der Leyen Commission

The European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen took office on 1 December 2019, following changes required as a result of the European Parliament rejecting three of the candidate Commissioners originally put forward. 

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News: 09 JANUARY 2020

Global trends in private M&A 2020

We have recently produced a client presentation on global trends in private M&A. Our findings draw on an in-depth analysis of more than 1,250 private M&A deals that A&O has advised on globally over the last eight years, looking at deal dynamics, execution risks and deal terms. This has given us exceptional insight into global and regional trends in market practice.

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Antitrust in focus

Publications: 20 DECEMBER 2019

Antitrust in focus - December 2019

This newsletter is our take on the antitrust developments we think are most interesting to your business. Mark Friend, partner based in London, is our editor for this final edition of 2019. He has selected:

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building frame

Publications: 16 JULY 2019

Beyond Leniency: DOJ Antitrust Announces New Approach For Crediting Corporate Compliance Programs

Recent announcements from senior Antitrust Division officials have brought about sweeping policy changes that are likely to displace the corporate leniency program as the only potential benefit of prompt self-reporting and an effective compliance program.1 While details continue to emerge, the Antitrust Division appears to be readjusting its policy focus from one based on leniency alone to one that more fully incentivizes compliance, in line with the Department of Justice more broadly. This policy shift culminated on July 11, 2019 with a major speech by the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust – titled Wind of Change: A New Model for Incentivizing Antitrust Compliance Programs – which solidified the Antitrust Division’s evolving position away from the “all-or-nothing” philosophy adopted by the long-standing corporate leniency program.  

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Recognition