Swiss Competition Report - Reporting Period : July 03 - September 03

Author:Mr Silvio Venturi
Profession:Tavernier Tschanz
 
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This section reviews developments concerning the Federal Act of October 6, 1995 on Cartels and Other Restraints of Competition (the "Competition Act"), which is enforced by the Federal Competition Commission ("FCC"). Appeals against decisions of the FCC are heard by the Appeal Commission for Competition Matters (the "Appeal Commission").

ENFORCEMENT POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS

Therapeutic Products Act and Competition Act. The FCC issued on September 23, 2003, an opinion addressed to the price Supervisor (Surveillant des prix) in favour of the applicability of the Competition Act to the sale of therapeutic products to public hospitals. A preliminary investigation showed that, after the entry into force of the Therapeutic Products Act ("TPA"), pharmaceutical companies changed their prices and discounts practices towards public hospitals, either altogether excluding discounts or uniformly reducing them to a maximum of 20 %. According to the FCC, the TPA aims at preventing acts of corruption but does not generally prohibit discounts on therapeutic products or set a maximum limit thereto.

ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Merger Control

Newspapers

On July 21st, 2003, the FCC temporarily authorised Le Temps SA to include in its daily newspaper Le Temps, the magazine TV8 published by Ringier, instead of its own TV supplement. This is an early step of a concentration plan by which Ringier would share the control of Le Temps SA with Edipresse. The FCC mainly considered the possibility for Le Temps SA, which is in a difficult financial situation, to make major savings.

On August 7, 2003, the FCC opened an in-depth investigation into Ringier's acquisition of the joint control over Le Temps SA, the company that publishes Le Temps. Ringier would share the control with Edipresse, which has a 50% holding in Le Temps SA. The preliminary investigation showed signs that Edipresse's dominant position on the daily newspaper market in the French-speaking part of Switzerland might be strengthen by the operation, because competition between Edipresse and Ringier might be lessened in neighbouring markets.

On September 11th, 2003, the FCC decided to investigate the acquisition by Berner Zeitung AG of the joint control over 20 Minuten. Tamedia AG and Berner Zeitung AG contemplated the acquisition of 20 Minuten through Express Zeitung AG, a company held by Tamedia AG. Berner Zeitung AG would first acquire joint control...

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