Gun-jumping: The EU General Court calls the shots

Gun-jumping: The EU General Court calls the shots

[co-author: Niharika Parshurampuria] The EU General Court has issued the latest judgment in a suite of hard-line anti-gun-jumping cases – effectively confirming the European Commission’s 2018 decision imposing a record fine on Altice for breaching EU merger control rules (albeit with a slight adjustment to the level of fine imposed). Over recent years, EU authorities and courts have adopted a more robust approach to the enforcement of the procedural rules in their merger control regimes, as a result of which it is more important than ever for companies to familiarise themselves and comply with the nuanced distinctions drawn between legitimate and illegitimate conduct – or risk facing significant financial penalties. On 22 September 2021, the General Court handed down its much anticipated judgment in Case T-425/18 Altice Europe v Commission . This related to an action for annulment brought by Altice Europe (Altice) against the European Commission (Commission) decision fining Altice €124.5m for implementing its 2015 acquisition of PT Portugal prior to notifying the transaction and receiving competition clearance from the Commission – in contravention of requirements under the EU Merger Regulation (EUMR). In its judgment, the General Court rejected all five of Altice’s pleas in law – in particular, confirming that: separate fines can be imposed by the Commission for (i) failure to notify a reportable transaction and (ii) implementing a reportable transaction before approval by the Commission; and contractual clauses in purchase agreements which restrict the commercial freedom of the target pre-closing can, on their own, cause […]

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