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NMa imposes fines for non-notification acquisition

The Netherlands Competition Authority has imposed two fines of EUR 18,000 each on Van Kerkhof en Visscher B.V. and Renault Rotterdam B.V. for failing to make timely notification of an acquisition in June 2006.

Car dealer Van Kerkhof en Visscher B.V. acquired car dealer Renault Rotterdam B.V. (fully owned by Renault Nederland N.V.). By signing the acquisition agreement, Van Kerkhof en Visscher B.V. acquired immediate control over the company. Parties did not notify the NMa until after arrangements had been made. The NMa then approved the acquisition in August 2006.

It is prohibited under the Competition Act to conclude an acquisition prior to notification of the NMa. Ex ante enforcement of competition law obligations prevents competition from being affected prior to the NMa's assessment whether or not the proposed acquisition creates or strengthens a dominant position. The NMa has imposed a fine, as the failure to notify an acquisition undercuts the enforcement of merger control legislation.

Businesses are under the obligation to notify the NMa of any acquisition (or merger/ joint venture) provided at least two of the businesses concerned have an annual turnover in the Netherlands of a minimum of EUR 30 million and all parties concerned have a combined global turnover of a minimum of EUR 113,450,000.

The maximum fine to be imposed by the NMa for infringement of the Competition Act is now EUR 22,500. As the Senate of the Dutch Parliament recently passed an amendment to the Competition Act, this fine will shortly be raised to EUR 450,000 or, if greater, 10 per cent of a company's turnover. This attests to the importance attached by the legislator to compliance with competition rules.