On November 8, 2016, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) imposed the highest “gun-jumping” national and worldwide fine ever, €80 million, on Altice-Numericable, a major French telecommunications operator, in relation to its 2014 acquisitions of SFR (“Société Française du Radiotéléphone”) and OTL (“Omer Telecom Limited”).
“This is a world first decision when considering the amount of the sanction and the seriousness of the circumstances,” commented Isabelle de Silva, the President of the FCA since last October.
Businesses often wonder how competition authorities pick and choose the cases they decide to bring. Companies with operations in Europe now have some guidance as a result of a recent speech by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in which she outlined how the Commission prioritizes its enforcement efforts.
Commissioner Vestager explained that the Commission uses three main criteria in prioritizing which cases to pursue. Not every case needs to satisfy all three criteria, but the Commission tries to keep these three objectives in mind in determining whether to pursue an enforcement action.