National Competition Law Report - Q1 2008 - Switzerland

Author:Mr Silvio Venturi
Profession:Tavernier Tschanz
 
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Annual Report

The FCC published its 2007 annual report on the Internet. Fourty-five concentrations were notified, out of which thirty-nine were cleared during the first stage investigation.

The FCC has imposed direct administrative fines for the first time since it received the authority to punish competition law violations directly, in effect since 1 April 2004 (with a one-year grace period in some cases). On 5 February 2007, the FCC issued a decision assessing the fine against Swisscom Mobile for abuse of dominant position in the call termination charges market at CHF 333 million. The FCC fined PubliGroupe CHF 2.5 million, having determined that PubliGroupe held a dominant position in the market for the selling and placement of advertisements in the printed media. These decisions are currently the subject of an appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

The FCC prohibited a cartel in the market for road asphalting in the Canton of Ticino. The subjects of this enquiry were all asphalt producers and all undertakings active in road surfacing in the Canton of Ticino. There were no administrative fines imposed, since the infringement had taken place prior to 1 April 2005, the expiry date for the grace period following amendments to the Swiss Competition Act, opening the way for direct fines. That being said, the FCC has announced that tender cartels will be subject to further scrutiny in the future.

Investigations

FCC Initiates Investigation Into The Distribution Of French Books

On 31 March 2008, the FCC initiated an investigation into the way French books are imported into Switzerland. Switzerland's distribution system for books is dominated by a few major wholesalers. These intermediate book traders act as logistic centers between the publishers and the bookshops. As regards books published by French publishing firms, each wholesaler acts for a specific publisher as an exclusive dealer for the whole Swiss market.

Under France's Lang Law, publishers set the prices of books, and booksellers cannot sell those books for more than a certain percentage below the selected price. When importing the books into the Swiss market, the wholesalers increase such price on the basis of a "conversion table". This table allows the wholesalers to set a price for Switzerland that is higher than in France.

The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the distributors acting as exclusive dealers for the French publishers have a dominant...

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