The Administrative Tribunal of Lazio has upheld the appeal lodged by car manufacturers and their captive banks, setting aside the decision of the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) alleging an horizontal agreement between captive banks and regarding the purchase of motor vehicles through financing supplied by captive banks. The ICA’s investigation was triggered by the discovery of an information exchange between captive banks, and regarding financing terms. However, captive banks do not compete with one another, as each only finances the purchase of motor vehicles sold by its parent company (the car manufacturer); the ICA thus alleged that the information exchange between captive banks could restrict competition between car manufacturers.
The Tribunal unequivocally sided with car manufacturers and their captive banks, pointing out that the ICA had failed to show how the information exchanged by captive banks could enable coordination in a complex market such as that for the sale of motor vehicles. Lear was involved in the ICA’s proceeding, acting on behalf of both RCI Banque and Opel Finance with two separate teams.