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Cartels

Competition law prohibits any form of horizontal agreements aimed at coordinating prices and restricting output. In absence of direct and indisputable evidence, however, it might be difficult to establish whether a group of firms has colluded.

Economic analysis is increasingly being used to distinguish between conduct that is due to unlawful agreements and that which arises from independent decisions. Economic theories and quantitative methods may help in shedding light on whether certain business practices and market structures are consistent with the hypothesis that market participants are acting independently or whether the firms are coordinating their behavior.

Even when the existence of a cartel is beyond dispute, economic analysis is crucial to quantify the impact of the agreement on prices and quantities and to determine the appropriate fine.

In addition, some horizontal agreements, such as joint ventures or standard setting arrangements, are not illegal, provided they generate efficiency benefits for consumers that could not be achieved in a less restrictive manner. Economic tools and techniques play an important role in assessing whether the expected efficiency gains outweigh the possible anticompetitive effects.

If your company is suspected of having formed a cartel, we can draw on the most recent developments in industrial organization and employ advanced empirical techniques to support you in developing a defense strategy.

We have extensive experience in advising companies involved in cartel investigations in a variety of markets, ranging from gasoline and jet fuel to infant milk, beauty products, health testing devices, marine paints and insurance.

If your company needs advice to tackle any competition economics issue related to a cartel allegation, contact us.

 

Latest Engagements

Alleged horizontal agreement in the mobile telecom market

The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has started an investigation into the retail market for mobile telecommunications services to assess whether mobile operators coordinated their strategy with reference to a change in the billing cycle for mobile services imposed by a change in regulation. More specifically, the operators have all reacted to the change in regulation […] Read more

Alleged horizontal agreement in the market for reinforcing steel

Lear assisted several companies involved in an investigation by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) for an alleged horizontal agreement in the market for reinforcing steel used in the construction sector. Lear’s analysis showed that the econometric evidences presented by the Authority was not suitable to prove the existence of any anti-competitive agreement and that the […] Read more

Alleged anticompetitive agreement in a public auction for the fractionation of therapeutic products from plasma

The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has started an investigation into Kedrion and Grifols, two providers of therapeutic products derived from human blood plasma, for their joint participation in a tender launched by the Italian Healthcare System (SSN). The ICA is concerned that the joint bid has unduly restricted competition for the award of the tender. […] Read more


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