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Caution Ahead: High and Unpredictable Fines for Gun Jumping journal article

Robert Klotz, Caroline Ruiz Palmer

European Competition and Regulatory Law Review, Volume 1 (2017), Issue 2, Page 139 - 147

On 8 November 2016, the French Competition Authority (Autorité de la concurrence) imposed a fine of €80 million on the telecom investment company Altice Luxembourg and the French telecom operator SFR for having implemented two concentrations before obtaining merger authorisation. The Authority discovered that prior to its approval of the acquisitions by Altice of both SFR and the OTL telecom group, Altice had been exchanging strategic information with SFR in relation to SFR operations and the integration of OTL. The scale of the fine is unprecedented in Europe for a ‘gun jumping’ offence and its imposition marks a turning point in the enforcement of merger control in France, with possible knock-on effects in other EU Member States, and possibly at the EU level as well. This decision should therefore be seen as a warning signal for all companies engaged in mergers and acquisitions, notably in light of insufficient guidance for the way in which such fines are being calculated.