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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Antitrust/FDI Insights

Some statistics from the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) – a quite unusual year

The FCO published its annual report for 2020/2021. Key takeaways: A further decline of merger control cases, fewer leniency applications and a focus on the digital economy. 

Merger control

In 2020, the FCO examined around 1,200 notified transactions (a decline of 14% in comparison to 2019). 9 of these transactions were closely examined in Phase II, of which 2 merger projects were abandoned by the parties, 3 cases were subject to conditions and 4 cases were cleared without conditions.

In 2021, the legislator expects a further reduction of notified transactions by 40% since the domestic turnover thresholds were significantly increased at the beginning of 2021 (from EUR 25m to EUR 50m and from EUR 5m to EUR 17.5m).

Cartel prosecution

In 2020, the FCO imposed fines amounting to around EUR 349m on a total of 19 companies and 24 individuals. In comparison, total fines in 2019 amounted to EUR 848m. Interestingly, the number of leniency applications declined as well from 19 in 2019 to 13 in 2020. This trend is likely to continue in 2021.

Digital economy

The pandemic accelerated the dynamics in the digital area. Therefore, it is rather less surprising that the digital economy was one of the central areas of the FCO's activities in 2020. Given the new powers of the FCO, which were introduced at the beginning of 2021 and which aim at digital platforms in particular, the focus on the digital economy is likely to continue.