1 May 2019
Key points of interest include the following:
Last quarter SAMR cleared over 100 mergers in China, one of which (KLA-Tencor/Orbotech) was cleared subject to behavioural conditions to address bundling and foreclosure concerns and issued a further four penalty decisions for failure to file. On the enforcement side, SAMR concluded its second collective dominance case against two domestic API suppliers, issuing fines totalling RMB 10 million (approximately USD 1.5 million) and also oversaw local investigations against two major players in the online food delivery sector – a sign of a hardening attitude towards China's booming tech sector.
Another development from China last quarter was the publication of draft regulations covering anti-competitive agreements; abuse of dominance and abuse of administrative power, of which the most notable feature was the inclusion of safe harbours for horizontal and vertical agreements (15% and 25% market share respectively), other than for certain specific categories of agreement identified in the draft regulations (covering such things as price-fixing, market sharing, resale price maintenance etc). These drafts are expected to be finalised in May.
Outside China, there is continuing interest in e-commerce with Japan looking into the trade practices of digital platforms and India introducing new foreign investment rules imposing restrictions on the ownership and operation of e-commerce platforms. On the merger control side, Malaysia is reportedly aiming to introduce a merger control regime as early as this year and the Philippines recently applied a modest increase to its filing thresholds. On the enforcement side, Singapore issued a USD 1.1 million fine against a number of hotel owners and managers for exchanging sensitive information (confirming an earlier provisional decision); Hong Kong commenced an investigation into an alliance of container terminal operators; Malaysia issued its first ever bid rigging decision with a proposed fine equivalent to approximately USD 470,000; Indonesia also targeted bid-rigging with a fine equivalent to approximately USD 250,000 imposed on three construction companies; and it was reported that Japan will shortly issue its largest ever cartel fine of approximately JPY 60 billion (over USD 500 million).
Antitrust in China and across the region: Quarterly Update January to March 2019