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CPC Response to Pištaljka Portal

kzkTo keep the public accurately informed about the Commission’s operations, a response was provided to the Pištaljka.rs web portal on the article “Commission for Protection of Competition in Business Dealings with a Company That It Has Charged for Bid Rigging”, published on 5 May 2021.

1. The Commission for Protection of Competition did not conduct a public procurement procedure or selected bidders for the procurement of an official agency’s vehicle of the Škoda brand, carried out in 2018. Since the Commission is one of the contracting authorities from the List of Contracting Authorities specified by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, on behalf of which the Administration for Joint Services of the Republic Bodies conducts centralized public procurements and signs framework agreements with suppliers, it has no rights or possibility to independently conduct a public procurement procedure or select suppliers. Following a centralized public procurement carried out by the authorized authority, the Commission as a user under the framework agreement signs an individual agreement with the selected supplier.

2. The Commission for Protection of Competition imposed a measure for protection of competition against undertakings – Auto kuća Čačak and others, for standard contracts signed with its dealers/repairers that contain the provisions on resale price maintenance (RPM), which is recognized as a restrictive agreement and an infringement of competition referred to in Article 10(2/1) of the Law on Protection of Competition, as indicated in the enacting terms of the CPC Decision (http://www.kzk.gov.rs/kzk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Resenje-Auto-Cacak-i-dr.-converted.pdf), and not as a bid-rigging in public procurements.

Lectures on Competition

kzkRepresentatives of the Commission for Protection of Competition and the Italian competition authority held a two-day seminar on competition protection for students of economics and law at the Faculty of Law, University of Kragujevac.

The lectures are implemented to promote the competition culture among the academia under the two-year EU-funded Twinning Project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia”, jointly implemented by competition authorities of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Italy. The Project activities also envisage holding seminars for students of the Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš Universities.

The purpose of the Project is to contribute to further harmonization of national legislation governing antitrust with the Acquis Communautaire, its efficient enforcement, and raising awareness on competition law and policy among all relevant actors in the Republic of Serbia.

Press Release of the Commission

kzkThe Council of the Commission for Protection of Competition exempted the agreements from prohibition subject to conditions, concluded by companies Telekom Srbija a.d. Beograd and Telenor d.o.o. Beograd, on the use of optic infrastructure, and imposed measures and deadlines thereof.

Due to the public interest in the case, as well as inaccurate and misleading information presented during the procedure, to inform the public accordingly, the Commission will publish the full version of the decision with expositions not containing provisions applicable to the protection of information once the procedural conditions are met, that is, once it decides on the requests of the companies for data protection (Article 45 of the Law on Protection of Competition).

Sector Inquiry into Sugar Beet Production and Buy Out, Sugar Production and Wholesale Trade from 2017-2019

kzkPursuant to Article 47 of the Law on Protection of Competition and the Decision of the CPC Council, the Commission launched a sector inquiry into competitive conditions on the markets for sugar beet production and buy out, sugar production from sugar beet processing, and sugar wholesale trade.

The subject of this research was to establish relations between competitors on the markets concerned from 2017-2019, assess their market share and relative power, analyze regulatory framework and look into the (contractual) relations between sugar beet producers, sugar beet purchasers, sugar producers, and wholesale traders of sugar products.

The Report on the inquiry into these particular markets summarizes the conclusions made in reference to the markets concerned, provides an overview of the dynamics between basic parameters of the markets concerned, offers comparisons with the EU market, particularly considering the changes that have happened during the observed period, gives an analysis of contractual relations, rebate policy, and compares the selling prices on the domestic market and export prices. Considering the tendencies on the sugar market and reduction in the number of operating sugar refineries both on the national and European markets, it is established that the export potential of this industrial sector to the neighboring countries is a very important factor, and that is necessary to maintain the production capacities and prevent the trend of closing and decline in the number of operating sugar refineries in the Republic of Serbia.

The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to all undertakings for providing the requested information during the Report drafting process and invites all stakeholders and other experts to present their respective commentaries to the Report by sending their observations to the email address office.kzk@kzk.gov.rs, Subject line: Commentary to the Sector Inquiry into the Markets for Sugar Beet and Sugar in the Republic of Serbia.

Extension of Proceedings to Cover New Undertakings on the Consumer Electronics Market

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition has extended the scope of an antitrust proceedings beyond the original parties, companies Comtrade Distribution d.o.o, Roaming Electronics d.o.o., and Tehnomanija d.o.o., by instituting proceedings against companies Gigatron eksport-import, Tehnomedia centar d.o.o., Emmezeta Srbija d.o.o., XLS d.o.o., and Tehnomanija d.o.o., to investigate the existence of restrictive agreements referred to in Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition, which restrict competition on the retail markets for consumer electronics in the Republic of Serbia.

In 2020, the Commission analyzed the conditions of competition on the wholesale and retail market for consumer electronics in the Republic of Serbia. Accordingly, and upon consulting the public data on prices, it is established that consumer electronics offered in retail outlets and online sales of the retailers concerned are sold at identical or nearly identical prices. Based on the information and data currently at its disposal, the Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that said undertakings as retailers of consumer electronics have not set their retail prices independently, but have fixed them in cooperation with importers and distributors Comtrade Distribution d.o.o., Roaming Electronics d.o.o., and Tehnomalnija d.o.o..

Resale price maintenance as a particular type of anticompetitive behavior may be committed by a supplier, as well as at the wholesale and retail levels, in which case the retailer is held jointly responsible with the supplier for this type of violation of competition law.

All persons in possession of data, documents or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings are invited to present said evidence to the Commission for Protection of Competition, at 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.

Commission Communication

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition was approached by companies Telekom Srbija a.d. and Telenor Srbija with a request for individual exemption (Art. 12). In proceedings on requests of this kind, the Commission first establishes its competence and then decides on the fulfillment of conditions for exemption of an agreement provided, in conformity with the requirements prescribed by the law (Arts. 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the Law on Protection of Competition), which is a procedure that will be followed in the case of this particular request as well.

To avoid any further public misinformation, we underline that the case does not concern a concentration (merger) between two or more undertakings, but an exemption from the prohibition of an agreement on limited and defined business cooperation in a particular business segment.

We also note that the Commission in its current practice (Exempt agreements) had already acted on requests for individual exemption of agreements concluded between undertakings active on the market for electronic communications, Telenor – VIP mobile, Telenor – SBB, etc.

Considering this specific market, whose development and functioning are also within the competence of sectoral regulatory bodies, the Commission will continue to act on this request for individual exemption, in cooperation with those authorities.
Under the Law on Protection of Competition and in the interest in bringing proceedings, as well as to protect the rights of parties in such proceedings, the Commission currently cannot provide more detail on this matter, nor prejudice on the deadlines or its actions.
The Commission continues to inform the public in a timely fashion on its activities, in the manner prescribed by the Law.

New Leniency Video Released

The Commission for Protection of Competition uploaded on its YouTube channel a video clip, produced to inform undertakings on the possible use of the Leniency Programme.

The Law on Protection of Competition provides for the Leniency Program for undertakings that report restrictive agreements, which envisages the full or partial immunity from fines in return for the cooperation with the Commission necessary for their disclosure and gathering evidence, in particular, in respect of the cartels.
Under the project “Increasing economic growth through support to promotion of competition policy” implemented in cooperation with the Kingdom of Norway and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, the Commission produced this video material in an effort to incite and inform undertakings in the Republic of Serbia that have participated in restrictive agreements, of the benefits of the Leniency Programme.

Instituted Proceedings on Car Sales Market

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition instituted antitrust proceedings ex officio against companies Porsche SCG Beograd, subjected to a dawn raid, Autokomerc Beograd, Autocentar Manik – ACM Preljina, and Bros Auto Niš, to investigate the existence of restrictive agreements referred to in Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition, which restrict competition on the car sales market in the Republic of Serbia.

When analyzing competitive conditions on the markets for automotive sales and aftersales services in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Commission has established the existence of a contractual provision in the provided agreements for products/Audi-branded vehicles, enabling the importer to set resale prices of motor vehicles. Such provisions can disturb and even eliminate price competition in retail, that is, price competition that could have existed between car dealers of this particular brand if they had been able to set their resale prices independently.

For the reasons outlined above, the Commission will, in particular, investigate whether the companies against which the proceedings had been brought, have set the resale prices of products/Audi-branded vehicles, which would represent an infringement of competition referred to in Article 10 of the Law.

The Commission for Protection of Competition invites all persons in possession of data, documents, or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings, to present said evidence to the Commission at 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.

Commission Conducts Sector Inquiry into Competitive Conditions on the Wholesale Market for Synthetic Fertilizer

kzkIn accordance with Article 47 of the Law on Protection of Competition, the Commission for Protection of Competition has conducted a sector inquiry into competitive conditions on the wholesale market for synthetic (mineral) fertilizers.

The Commission has noted the need to analyze the competitive conditions on the fertilizers market given the increase in the producer price of fertilizers in the first three quarters of 2019, as well as the bankruptcy of one of the largest manufacturers of synthetic fertilizers in the Republic of Serbia – company “HIP Azotara” from Pančevo.

The research is carried out to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure and dynamics of this market and competitive conditions prevailing therein, as well as to identify potential market weaknesses.

In this inquiry, the Commission started off from the wholesale market for synthetic (mineral) fertilizers as a whole, within which it has analyzed the market for nitrogen fertilizers and the market for compound fertilizers.

For the purposes of this analysis, the Commission has collected and processed the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Finance – Customs Administration, as well as other publicly available data and information relating to the production, import, export, and wholesale of synthetic fertilizers. The sector inquiry also looked into eight undertakings, manufacturers, and importers whose combined share accounted for about 90% of the total estimated fertilizers market in 2019.

The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to all undertakings for providing the requested information throughout the drafting process, and invites all interested parties and other experts to present their respective commentaries to the report by sending their observations to the email address office.kzk@kzk.gov.rs, Subject line: Commentary to the sector inquiry into fertilizers market, no later than January 15, 2021.

Commission Institutes Proceedings Against Apoteka Janković

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition instituted ex officio proceedings against company Zdravstvena ustanova Apoteka Janković to investigate a merger implemented before obtaining clearance under the Law on Protection of Competition, which, based on reasonable grounds to believe, is created by the acquisition of control on the part of Zdravstvena ustanova Apoteka Janković over pharmaceutical operations of Zdravstvena ustanova Apoteka Zrenjanin.

In the investigation procedure, the Commission will assess the criteria provided by the Law (Article 19 of the LPC) on the permissibility of mergers, and in particular, the fact that the case concerns a non-notified merger implemented without authorization and noncompliance by said undertakings with their obligations under the national merger control regime.

The Commission will establish all the relevant facts, evidence, and other elements on which to base its decision on potential actions, that is, deconcentration measures.
The Law provides that concentrations of undertakings are permitted, unless they significantly restrict, distort, or prevent competition on the market of the Republic of Serbia or its part, and especially if that restriction, distortion, or prevention is the result of creating or strengthening of a dominant position.

The conclusion instituting proceedings invites all persons in possession of data, documents, or other relevant information that could contribute to the accurate fact-finding in this proceedings to forthwith present said evidence to the Commission for Protection of Competition at 25 Savska St., 4th Floor, Belgrade.