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Antitrust / Competition

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In 2019, the Indonesian Competition Commission (KPPU) issued a regulation that asserted that KPPU has the authority to review acquisitions of assets, not just acquisitions of shares. Since then, hundreds of acquisitions of asset transactions have been notified to KPPU. KPPU’s concepts of “assets” and their “acquisition” under this regulation are very broad.

On 4 January 2023, the new UK subsidy control regime under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 came into force. This completes the overhaul of the UK’s approach to subsidies following Brexit and the UK’s decision to diverge from the EU’s State aid regime. The new rules will apply to subsidies granted by public authorities on or after 4 January 2023.

On 5 January 2023, the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 to propose a new rule that would significantly restrict the use of non-compete clauses between employers and employees. The FTC’s proposed rule represents the FTC’s first foray into Section 5 competition rulemaking under Chair Lina Khan. The proposed rule follows a set of enforcement actions taken by the FTC against non-compete covenants in certain employer contracts.

President Joe Biden’s omnibus spending package included three pieces of new antitrust legislation: (1) the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act; (2) the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act; and (3) the Foreign Merger Subsidy Disclosure Act. The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act will alter filing fees for transactions requiring antitrust review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The new fee structure will reduce filing fees for smaller transactions, while significantly increasing fees for the largest ones.

On 2 November 2022, the Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court published its decision on the trade secret infringement case of Wuwei Bosheng Seed Industry Limited Company (Appellant) v. Hebei Huasui Seed Industry Limited Company. This case raised the untested question of whether parent material used in breeding can be protected as a trade secret in China.

Now that sustainability is a board-level issue, companies are under immense pressure to ensure their supply chains are environmentally and ethically accountable. The motivation may come from internal business, consumers, government, shareholders—or all of them. There are targets, commitments, deadlines, and board pressure to match words with deeds.

KPPU, the Indonesian competition authority, issued 15 decisions this year, a decline from 23 decisions in 2021. Late merger filing cases still account for the majority of decisions, followed by small and micro enterprises partnership cases. The increasing number of SME partnership cases suggests closer scrutiny by KPPU of partnerships between big and medium corporations and SMEs, which is in line with KPPU’s priorities as the pandemic subsides.

US agencies such as the SEC, the CFTC and the FTC have extensive enforcement powers to seek significant financial penalties and limit or otherwise affect conduct through court injunctions or administrative orders. Companies and executives under investigation and threatened with enforcement actions by these agencies often choose to settle rather than litigate. Historically, from as cost-benefit analysis, settlement is preferable to the cost of litigation and the long term risks of extensive fights with agencies that would continue to be their regulators.

On 7 October 2022, the Investigative Authority of the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) published the notice of initiation of an investigation for alleged horizontal monopolistic practices, also known as cartel practices, which include agreements to manipulate prices, restricting supply, or coordinating bids in the market for the production, distribution, and commercialization of flat glass and products manufactured from flat glass in the national market.

The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, the sole authority for competition protection in Colombia, issued a Guide to Provide Orientation in the Implementation of Competition Compliance Programs. Although the Guide has a doctrinal scope and does not impose obligations, its publication allows the market to understand the vision that the SIC has on the relevance of these types of programs, the benefits of implementing them, and the key elements that they should contain and develop. In this way, the SIC highlights the value of these programs as a mechanism for the prevention and early detection of anticompetitive conduct.