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The Commission initiates proceedings due to the suspicion of bid rigging

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition initiated proceedings against the market participants, KTG Solucije d.o.o. Subotica and Eco sense d.o.o. Subotica due to the reasonable assumption that by colluding in the public procurement procedures of different contracting authorities, they infringed competition in the sense of Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition.

Simultaneously with the initiation of the proceedings, the authorized officials of the Commission for Protection of Competition carried out a dawn raid at two locations and collected the relevant documentation for establishing the facts in this procedure.

The Commission discovered, through the Public Procurement Office, that the company KTG Solucije, as a bidder in certain public procurement procedures, was withdrawing its bids, which is why the contracting authorities were concluding contracts with the second-ranked bidder, the company Eco sense, but at higher prices compared to those offered by KTG Solucije. The subject matter of the disputed public procurement procedures were materials and means for maintaining the hygiene of facilities.

Apart from discovering about the withdrawal of bids, the Commission has, by analyzing the IP addresses (Internet Protocol addresses) from which the companies KTG Solucije d.o.o. and Eco sense d.o.o. were accessing the Public Procurement Portal in the said public procurement procedures, either to download the tender documents or to submit bids, noted that both companies were almost always accessing from identical IP addresses. The results of the analysis of the IP addresses indicate that both companies were accessing the Public Procurement Portal almost always from the devices which were connected through the same internet network, and possibly even from an identical device.

It was reasonably assumed that the companies KTG Solucije d.o.o. and Eco sense d.o.o., submitted bids, especially but not exclusively, in the analyzed public procurement procedures, contrary to the statements given in each individual public procurement procedure, i.e. it was reasonably assumed that the bids were not independently submitted, without the agreement with other bidders, which would constitute a competition infringement from Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition.

All persons who possess data, documents or other relevant information which may be significant for determining the facts in this case, are hereby invited to submit them to the Commission for Protection of Competition, at 25/IV Savska Street, Belgrade.

The Commission initiates proceedings against the company HOTELSKO, GOSTITELJSKO I TURISTIČKE UZDEĆE MOSKVA due to an unnotified concentration

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition initiated ex officio proceedings against the company HOTELSKO, GOSTITELJSKO I TURISTIČKO PREDUZEĆE MOSKVA DOO BEOGRAD (STARI GRAD), in order to assess the concentration which was implemented even though it was not approved in accordance with the Law on Protection of Competition, and which had, according to the reasonable assumption, resulted from the acquisition of control by the company HOTELSKO, UGOSTITELJSKO I TURISTIČKO PREDUZEĆE MOSKVA over the operations of Hotel “Tonanti” in Vrnjačka Banja, which may represent an independent business entity.

In the investigation proceedings, the Commission will evaluate the criteria prescribed by the Law (Art. 19 of the Law on Protection of Competition) which determine the permissibility of a concentration, and in particular, the circumstance that the concentration under review had been implemented, but not notified, which was the obligation of market participants. The law stipulates that concentrations of market participants are allowed, unless they would significantly restrict, distort or prevent competition on the market of the Republic of Serbia, and especially if that restriction, distortion or prevention would be the result of creation or strengthening of a dominant position.

The Commission will determine the important facts, evidence and other elements on which it will base its decision regarding the possible determination of a measure of protection of competition, that is, a measure of deconcentration.

By way of conclusion on initiation of the proceedings, all persons who possess data, documents or other relevant information which can contribute to the establishment of the correct facts in this case are invited to submit them without delay to the Commission for the Protection of Competition at the address 25/IV Savska Street, Belgrade.

Presentation of the most important work results of the Commission for Protection of Competition in the decade 2013-2022

kzkOn the occasion of celebrating the Competition Day, the Commission for Protection of Competition prepared a graphical presentation, of the most important work results for the last ten years (2013 – 2022) based on its Annual Reports.

Special significance has been on the results of the three-years’ work activities carried out in the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, which were compared to three years preceding the pandemic, to capture its impact on the Commission’s work.

The analysis showed that the Commission (starting from 2020 as the first full year of the IV Cconvocation of the Commission Council), accomplished significant results, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with the same number of employees, compared to three previous years, as follows:

• Positive effect on the RS budget has increased by 62%.
• Number of decisions determining competition infringements which were not annulled has increased by 100%.
• Monetary amount of imposed fines in decisions whichthat were not annulled by courts has increased by 72%.
• Efficiency of imposition of competition protection measures has increased from 19% to 69%
• Number of processed merger control cases has increased by 25%.
• Number of sector inquiries has increased by 50%.
• Number of conducted dawn-raids has grown by 36%
• Work productivity of the employed staff has grown by 30%.

The Commission has prepared the Instruction on the content and method of submitting requests for determining data protection measure, form included.

kzkThis instruction shall regulate in more detail the content and method of submitting a request for determining the measure of protection of data sources and/or specific data, prescribed by the provisions of Article 45 of the Law on Protection of Competition (for the purposes of this instruction: request for data protection).

Data protection implies that the protected data will not be publicly published, that is, that they will be omitted from the decisions and acts of the Commission for the Protection of Competition that are publicly published, as well as that they cannot be viewed or copied when inspecting the case files, regardless of whether they are in printed or electronic form, in Serbian or a foreign language of the original document.

Protected data shall not have the property of information of public importance in the sense of the law regulating free access to information of public importance.

Representatives of the Commission participate in a round table on competition law

Representatives of the Commission took part in a round table organized as part of the Jean Monnet Competition Law Center of Excellence project regarding the latest developments in the field of competition law and policy in the European Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (” Recent developments in Competition Law and Policy in EU and CEE Countries: Open issues and Challenges“) at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

The round table presented experiences and challenges in the areas of competition protection and control of state aid in Croatia, Serbia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, with the presence of over 50 representatives of banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and the academic community.

Proceedings Initiated Against Apple Products Distributer

kzkThe Commission for the Protection of Competition initiated proceedings of investigating violation of competition ex officio against related companies Apcom from Hungary and Apcom Distribution from Belgrade due to reasonable doubt that stated companies set Apple product prices in resale in the Republic of Serbia and performed unannounced raids on four locations.

The Commission for the Protection of Competition analyzed competition status on the market of (1) mobile telephones and tablets, (2) smart watches, (3) accessories (headphones and wireless headphones), (4) smart TV boxes and (5) peripherals (keyboards and mouses), among others, for Apple products in the Republic of Serbia. On this occasion, through insight into publicly available data, it has been concluded that the prices of certain Apple products in the Republic of Serbia are unified with observed retailers of this brand, regardless of whether retailers have certain status of Apple authorized dealer or not, and regardless of sales channel, that is, whether it is classic sales in bricks and mortar stores or online sales.

Also, it has been detected that, in addition to being unified, the prices of Apple products on the market of the Republic of Serbia are higher compared to the prices in the neighboring countries, which is why Commission presumed existence of violation of competition in the form of setting resale prices in the sense of Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition, that is, that companies Apcom Distribution and Apcom from Hungary set the prices of Apple products in resale.

All persons having data, documents or other relevant information that can contribute to establishing the factual situation in this procedure are hereby invited to submit them at the address of the Commission for Protection of Competition, Savska 25 / IV, Belgrade.

The Commission has adopted a new Instruction for the detection of bid rigging in the public procurement procedure

kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia has adopted a new Instruction for detecting bid rigging in the public procurement procedure, in the light of the new legal solutions (Law on Public Procurement, amendments to the Criminal Code) that were adopted after the 2011 Instruction.

The Commission for Protection of Competition recognized the need to emphasize and raise the level of awareness among market participants about the need and ways of business compliance with current regulations and regulations in the field of competition protection.

The aim of issuing the Instruction is to prevent and foil the implementation of “rigged or falsified offers” (bid rigging), as the most severe forms of cartels. The consequence of such agreements between competitors – bidders regarding the offered price is the elimination of competition between them, which is why the contracting authority would pay more for the subject of procurement than it would pay under the conditions of competition.

The OECD Guidelines for Combating Bi Rigging in Public Procurement and the Notice of the European Commission in accordance with the needs of cooperation between the Commission and the Public Procurement Office were used in the preparation.

Lecture on Protection of Competition Held

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Representatives of the Commission for Protection of Competition held a lecture at a webinar entitled “Concentration of market participants and effect on the process of realization of assets in bankruptcy proceedings” organized by the Bankruptcy Supervision Agency, with the support of the World Bank.

The aim of this webinar is to introduce the participants to the law on competition governing the area of concentration control, which can occur in bankruptcy proceedings.

111 bankruptcy administrators and judges of commercial courts from all over Serbia took part in the webinar.

Commission Adopts Guidelines on Competition Compliance Programs

The previous practice of the Commission for Protection of Competition confirmed that competition infringements are often a result of a lack of understanding or knowledge of undertakings. Therefore, the Commission recognized the need to increase the level of awareness of undertakings and manners in which businesses can achieve competition law compliance.

To assist undertakings in the process of adopting competition compliance programs, the Commission in these guidelines gives a brief description and clarifies individual “steps” towards adopting such programs.

The objective of these guidelines is to give orientations to undertakings, both large companies and SMEs, on drafting internal acts and rulebooks that would allow them to ensure that their businesses can achieve compliance with competition law, as well as to call attention to the need for compliance in business with this area of law across a wide range of undertakings.

National Assembly Adopts CPC Annual Activity Report 2020

kzkAt the Second Sitting of the Second Regular Session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Annual Activity Report of the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) 2020.

CPC President Nebojša Perić presented to the National Assembly the results of operations in 2020, achieved during the first year of the CPC Council’s new term.

The summary of key activities of the Commission in 2020 provides an overview of antitrust investigations; exemptions of restrictive agreements from prohibition; merger control proceedings; results of sector and inquiries into competitive conditions on individual markets; issued opinions; CPC activities in the process of accession to the European Union under Chapter 8; competition advocacy activities and measures; accomplished national and international cooperation, including CPC activities to implement international projects.

During 2020, the Commission worked on 22 cases, seven of which were closed. Also, it has instituted eight new proceedings, seven of which to establish the existence of restrictive agreements and one that concerned the abuse of dominance. In five instituted proceedings, the Commission conducted 18 dawn raids in total, which is the highest number since the establishment of the Commission carried out during a reporting period. By all parameters (instituted and closed proceedings, dawn raids), the year 2020 was the most productive period for antitrust investigations.

Also, 134 merger notifications were filed in 2020, while the Commission completed four sector inquiries and launched two, which will be completed by the end of 2021.

According to the Activity Report, despite difficulties caused by the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, the Commission closed the year of 2020 with improved measurable operational indicators in almost all areas of protection of competition on the market of the Republic of Serbia.