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Singapore – Competition Highlights.

10 February, 2014

 

Board Changes At The Competition Commission Of Singapore (“CCS”)


With effect from January 2014, Mr Aubeck Kam Tse Tseun joins the CCS board. Mr Kam, who currently serves as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore, has replaced Mrs Tan Ching Yee who stepped down on 31st December 2013 when her term ended. There are no other board changes and Chairman Mr Lam Chuan Leong and the other board members remain in office.


CCS Issues Proposed Infringement Decision Against Ball And Roller Bearings Manufacturers


On 16 December 2013, the CCS issued a Proposed Infringement Decision (“PID”) against four Japanese bearings manufacturers and their Singapore subsidiaries (“Parties”). CCS began its inquiry into the cartel after one of the companies applied for immunity under the CCS’ leniency program. In this preliminary decision, which is CCS’ first infringement case in an international cartel, the CCS held that by engaging in “anti-competitive agreements and unlawful exchange of information in relation to the prices of ball and roller bearings”, the Parties had infringed section 34 of the Competition Act. The CCS, in another first, has held both parents and subsidiaries would be jointly and severally liable for the infringement.


CCS Publishes Occasional Paper On Whether Buyer Power Can Be Used As A Defence


On 8 January 2014, the CCS published an Occasional Paper discussing whether Buyer Power can be used as a Defence. “Buyer power” is defined as the circumstance where “a firm or a group of firms are able to obtain from suppliers more favourable terms than those available to other buyers or would otherwise be expected under normal competitive conditions”.


Using past cases in Singapore as case studies, the paper discusses the possibility of raising such a defence in relation to cases of abuse of dominance, mergers and anti-competitive agreements where, prima facie, the act would result in an adverse effect on competition in the market. It concludes that such a defence may be used to avoid liability for infringements in the following ways:


  • Abuse of dominance: the presence of countervailing buyer power may be used to argue that the undertaking is not in a dominant position and, therefore, no abuse can be found.
  • Mergers: the existence of countervailing buyer power may minimize the risks of coordination between the remaining undertakings post-merger. It may also offset non-coordinated anti-competitive effects so that no Substantial Lessening of Competition (“SLC”) will be found to result from the merger.
  • Anti-Competitive Agreements: except for cases involving black listed activities, buyer power may be used to argue that there is no appreciable adverse effect on competition in the market. The presence of buyer power can also be used to strengthen the case for net economic benefit.

 Rajah & Tann

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Kala Anandarajah, Partner, Rajah & Tann

kala.anandarajah@rajahtann.com

 

Dominique Lombardi, Partner, Rajah & Tann

dominique.lombardi@rajahtann.com

 
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