On April 17, 2024, the former Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, published a report outlining the future of the EU’s single market (the “Report”).[1]  Letta proposed significant reforms, including the addition of a fifth freedom to spur innovation, consolidation in key sectors to enhance global competitiveness, and a new framework for State aid governance.

On April 2, 2024, the European Commission published, in full, its May 2023 decision unconditionally approving the acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat[1] (the “Transaction”), following an in-depth Phase II investigation.  The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) had also unconditionally cleared the acquisition on May 9, 2023.[2]  The Transaction was approved in the context of a trend toward broader consolidation in an increasingly challenged European satellite operations market, with SES announcing its intention to acquire Intelsat just a week before the Commission published its Viasat decision.[3]

In the latest instalment of the Cleary Gottlieb Antitrust Review podcast, host Nick Levy is joined by Saverio Valentino, Board member of the Italian Antitrust Authority. The conversation covers Saverio’s first year in the role, the agency’s current priorities, merger control and FDI regulation, cartel enforcement, rights of defence, judicial review, and much more.

On February 27, 2024, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its roadmap for 2024-2025 as every year,[1] outlining its enforcement priorities for the year ahead.  The FCA emphasized the need to take action in the same key areas of interest as in 2023[2]: (i) the digital economy, (ii) sustainability and the ecological transition, and (iii) the protection of purchasing power. 

More than one and half year after the amendments to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (the “AML”) came into effect, the State Council of China approved on December 29, 2023 and published on January 26, 2024 revisions[1] to China’s merger control notification thresholds (the “State Council Order”).[2]

On December 15, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its Revised Leniency Guidelines, which repealed and replaced the 2015 guidelines.[1]  The Revised Leniency Guidelines were adopted as part of the implementation of the “DDADUE” law,[2] the ECN+ directive,[3] and the “Damages” directive.[4]  They aim to provide greater legal certainty for leniency applicants and modernize the leniency application procedure.

On November 23, 2023, the Court of Justice (“ECJ”) delivered two important judgments in the Ryanair v. Commission cases concerning Ryanair’s challenge of two State aid schemes granted by France and Sweden to airlines holding “national operating licenses”[1] during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]  

On November 8, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) held the G7 Joint Competition Enforcers and Policy Makers Summit (the “Summit”) in Tokyo.  The focus of the Summit was for the G7 competition authorities and policymakers (the “Authorities”) to discuss effective approaches to enforcing and promoting competition in digital markets.  At the Summit, the Authorities adopted the “Digital Competition Communiqué[1] (the “Communiqué”) and updated the “Compendium of approaches to improving competition in digital markets”[2] (the “Compendium”). 

The new draft guidelines depart from decades of practice by introducing novel presumptions that could make it harder for mergers to obtain regulatory clearance from the agencies.

On July 19, 2023, the FTC and DOJ published draft merger guidelines.[1]  Historically, the purpose of these guidelines has been to provide the public, including companies whose transactions are potentially subject to agency review, with information about how the agencies analyze mergers to identify potential competitive harm.  The guidelines have no force of law and are not binding on the courts, though courts have relied on them as persuasive authority to varying degrees.  Past iterations of the guidelines have therefore provided a neutral explanation of the agencies’ approach, including descriptions of the economic tools that they and the courts can use to assess a merger’s likely competitive effects.