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Below a selection of Lear’s success stories, where Lear’s involvement resulted in a significant achievement for our client.

Alleged horizontal agreement in the market for reinforcing steel

The TAR Lazio (the first instance administrative court) recently quashed a decision by the Italian Antitrust Authority (ICA) that had sanctioned a number of firms operating in the reinforcing steel bar and electro-welded mesh markets for an allegedly illegal information exchange and price fixing agreement. Lear had assisted all companies involved in the investigation by the Italian Competition Authority during the administrative procedure and the appeal.
According to the ICA the parties had systematically used their monthly meetings at the association Nuovo Campsider to share commercially sensitive information on the purchase prices of ferrous scrap (the main production input of both reinforcing bars and electro-welded meshes). Moreover, in the fortnightly meetings of the Steel Products Prices Committee of the Brescia Chamber of Commerce, they would define in a concerted manner the selling prices of both products, which would then become the reference prices for the whole market. The TAR observes that a sound economic analysis must support also the finding of an infringement by object. Indeed, the anticompetitive objectives of the agreement must be part of a consistent narrative and need to provide the only plausible explanation of the observed behavior. The ICA’s decision did not meet this test.

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ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMPETITION POLICY ENFORCEMENT ON THE FUNCTIONING OF TELECOMS MARKETS IN THE EU

The report empirically investigates the causal effects of three decisions adopted by the European Commission on the performance of telecoms markets, namely the T-Mobile/Orange merger in the UK mobile markets, a state aid decision in the German fixed broadband market and an abuse of dominant position by Telekomunikacja Polska in the Polish fixed market. The study also presents a quantitative analysis on the impact of a merger, an antitrust and a state aid decision adopted by the European Commission around 2010. Based on the differences in differences method, the analyses empirically investigate the causal relationship between the decisions and the performance of the telecoms markets, measured mainly through prices, penetration, coverage, investment. Broadly, results show that the enforcement of the three decisions contributed to the better functioning of the affected fixed and mobile markets and provide useful insights for the future decision making process.

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ALLEGED HORIZONTAL AGREEMENT IN THE MARKET FOR LONG TERM CAR RENTALS

Following a lengthy investigation into the market for long-term car rental services for an alleged breach of article 101, on 30 March 2017 the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) took its final decision, finding no wrongdoing by the companies involved. The AGCM was concerned that the firms operating in this market, and their trade association Aniasa, had implemented an exchange of information which – for its level of detail – may have had the object and effect of restricting competition.Lear assisted Aniasa throughout the proceedings, collecting data from the main companies operating in the market and performing analyses showing that the information exchange had neither the object nor the effect of restricting competition. Lear’s findings were referenced in the text of the final decision. In order to rebut the AGCM’s allegation, Lear developed a qualitative analysis centered on the level of aggregation of the exchanged data and the market heterogeneity and an empirical analysis to prove the absence of any anticompetitive effects. The proceedings resulted in a finding of non-infringement.


Damages quantification for violation of IP rights in the user-generated content platforms industry

On 27 April 2016, the Tribunal of Rome published its judgement on the case between RTI and Break Media, condemning the latter to pay 115.000 Euro as compensation for IP rights violation. In particular, the Tribunal has considered Break Media responsible for the unauthorized presence on its website of 48 videos of RTI popular programs. This verdict marks a watershed in the identification of the responsibility for the content presented in user-generated content platforms, and has important implications for damage quantification related issues.
Lear has assisted RTI throughout the proceedings and evaluated the damages resulting from the copyright violations examined. This consisted in estimating the price that Break Media should have paid to obtain the right to show RTI’s contents (and not the price that Break Media would have been willing to pay). In order to correctly estimate the loss suffered by RTI, Lear’s analysis carefully considered RTI business model and the inability to limit the diffusion of the content in the online environment.


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Alleged cartel in the insurance market

The decision n. 25382 by the Italian competition authority (AGCM) found that UnipolSai and Generali had infringed Competition Law by entering into an agreement for the provision of insurance services to local public transport companies. Lear has assisted UnipolSai throughout the proceedings, first before the AGCM and then during the appeal. Lear’s analysis focused on highlighting the weaknesses of the AGCM’s approach to the case, and provided evidence that the companies’ behavior was the result of autonomous and economically rational strategies pursued by the companies. The Administrative Tribunal of Lazio annulled the AGCM decision in December 2015.

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Study on the ex-post evaluation of three sequential merger decisions in the Netherlands

Lear has performed a detailed quantitative assessment of the ex-post effects of three sequential merger decisions involving competing supermarkets chains in the Netherlands. Lear’s economists have identified and collected all the relevant data on the affected markets and have developed a methodology to assess the effect of the mergers on prices, product variety and ancillary services. One of the novelties of this study consists in evaluating the impact of a merger on non-price dimensions such as the depth of products’ assortment. The study also provides an empirical strategy to identify the impact of remedies (stores’ divestitures) on the competitiveness of the market.
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Competition and Public Procurement in the Road Maintenance Sector in Moldova (EBRD)

In 2015, Lear provided technical assistance to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Moldovan Competition Council (CCRM). Lear developed and delivered a training program for CCRM’s officials on market investigation and competitive assessment, with a specific focus on the competitive assessment of public procurement. Lear assisted CCRM officials in the delivery of a market study (including the identification of appropriate remedial actions to remove competitive restraints). The project also entailed the organization of ad-hoc advocacy initiatives/workshops aimed at disseminating the results of the market assessment as well as strengthening the advocacy function of the CCRM.


Assessment of Regulatory Obstacles to Competition to Unlock Growth Potential in Kenya

Lear provided consulting services for the analysis of product market regulation (PMR) in Kenya. The project aimed at identifying those markets of the Kenyan economy that are currently suffering from anti-competitive regulations. Thanks to interviews with local stakeholders and interactions with the World Bank Group and the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), Lear’s economists were able to gain a clear understanding on the conditions of local markets. The second phase of the project consisted in providing thought through recommendations to the CAK, suggesting feasible alternatives to current regulations and promoting their advocacy and enforcement roles.
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Merger in the grocery retailing sector

Lear assisted a leading grocery retailer in a phase II merger inquiry before the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM). Lear’s primary responsibility within the project was to analyze the data resulting from customer surveys, estimate the diversion ratios and apply the UPP, GUPPI and IPR tests to assess the unilateral effects of the merger. The merger was unconditionally cleared by the AGCM.


Alleged abuse of dominance in the market for the production and sale of cholic acid

Lear assisted two major Italian firms who have been accused by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) of abusing their dominant position in the market for the production and sale of cholic acid (constructive refusal to deal). Cholic acid is derived from animal bile as an intermediate stage for the production of UDCA (an active pharmaceutical principle – API). Lear’s economists assisted both companies in the administrative proceeding analyzing and illustrating to the AGCM the value chain, the competitive conditions at each level, and the price formation mechanism. The AGCM closed its investigation accepting some structural remedies proposed by the two firms under investigation.

IN BRIEF

  • Established in 1999
  • Office in Rome
  • Expertise: Economics
  • Main focus: Competition and Regulation
  • Target: Antitrust Authorities, Companies, Law Firms, Policy Makers, Regulators, International Financial Institutions

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LEAR

The name “Lear” stands for “Laboratory of economics, antitrust and regulation” and the acronym is short, direct and has connotations in many languages. Or you may think there is a relationship with the famous play “King Lear” by Shakespeare, which is always engaging. Sometimes, private entrepreneurship may require a touch of madness.

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NOW YOU KNOW

How do you pronounce Lear?
This is how we do: /lεar/