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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance


Private equity liability for antitrust fines

3 April 2014

The European Commission has imposed a €37 million fine on Goldman Sachs (GS) for antitrust breaches committed by a portfolio company that was formerly owned by its private equity arm, GS Capital Partners.  The fine was joint and several on GS and the portfolio company.  It was imposed on the basis that GS exercised decisive influence over the portfolio company, though GS is not alleged to have participated in, been aware of or facilitated the alleged cartel in any way.  The risk of such parental liability for private equity houses is not new, but it is a timely reminder of the need to ensure that fund documents cover this possibility and that an antitrust compliance programme should be implemented at portfolio level.

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