We thought we would start 2015 with some of the highlights and lessons learned from 2014:
- High politics: the OPEC cartel is divided, and is pursuing a high risk strategy of driving out competing sources of supply via sustained over-supply and price depression. The price of crude oil dropped under $50 per barrel and in the UK, the Government does not seem to be confident that competition in the oil greedy sectors (airlines, energy) would be effective in ensuring that costs savings are passed on to consumers.
- Strategic complaints: Google remains embroiled in two major EU antitrust investigations, with competitors taking full advantage of the opportunity to prolong existing investigations/ignite new ones as a route by which to secure commercial advantage.
- Controlling routes to market: suppliers seeking to control routes to market, particularly in the online space, face substantial risks of investigation. Restricting sales via the Internet (including restricting sales via third party platforms/online market places) is very difficult to justify as is resale price monitoring.
- Sweetheart deals: competition amongst the EU's Member States to secure inward investment has resulted in investigations into tax deals involving Amazon, Fiat and others. Jean Claude Juncker, ex-Prime Minister of Luxembourg (a country in respect of which many questions on tax have been raised) secured the Presidency of the EU Commission.
- Tuesday is the day: two thirds of antitrust 'dawn raids' took place on a Tuesday with the remainder on a Wednesday or Thursday. Monday and Friday do not figure (month-wise, nor do August or December/January). If you have key executives trained to manage a competition dawn raid, they should be readier on Tuesdays than on other days.
If you would like to discuss these issues please do not hesitate to contact John Cassels at email@example.com