On February 5, 2020, the FCO announced that it has no competitive concerns regarding the launch of the agricultural online trading platform operated by unamera GmbH (“Unamera”).[1] The FCO pointed out that while digital platforms can make trading much more efficient, it must be ensured that they must not restrict competition: Digital platforms must not be subject to price-fixing agreements, they must be non-discriminatory and there must not be excessive transparency. In particular: [2]

  • Unamera must ensure that “Chinese Walls” are in place to prevent the information flow between its financial backers and shareholders which are competing agricultural traders and will thus become active on the platform themselves. The operation of the platform must be strictly separated from its shareholders in terms of organization, technology, and personnel. Further, these shareholders must waive their rights under German law to access company
  • Platform users must register to Unamera as suppliers or customers, but will at first only gain access to anonymous prices. Unamera must ensure that the contracting party is only disclosed shortly before the imminent conclusion of the contract. In addition, prices shown in Unamera’s market statistics must be average prices based on price data from at least five independent suppliers.

[1]      See FCO Press Release, February 5, 2020, available in English here and in German here.

[2]      The FCO’s guidelines are based on its experience in its 2018 review of XOM Metals, an online trading platform for steel and steel products; see Case B5-1/18-01. FCO Case Summary, March 27, 2018, only available in German here; see also FCO Press Release, March 28, 2018, only available in German here.