We have gained our clients’ trust by blending with our clients in internal corporate investigations (taking place either before or after administrative proceedings have started) and assisting in (often) intrusive dawn raids or surprise inspections. We are pioneers in connection with the leniency policy introduced in Spain in 2008, having filed a leniency application on the very first day the leniency program entered into force in Spain [Read more on El Pais].
We work closely with our clients to maximize their possibilities of success in administrative proceedings. If we think our arguments have not been sufficiently heard, we guide and represent our clients in the judicial review of antitrust decisions, where our track record is substantial, including appellate and Supreme Court litigation.
Our exposure to sophisticated corporate practices has made us deeply aware of the need for speed and accuracy in corporate transactions. No client of ours has ever had its deal blocked for regulatory reasons and we can help gain otherwise difficult approvals. Clients appreciate our no-nonsense and straightforward solutions to problems ranging from contingencies associated to past antitrust infringements, to State aid issues in the financing of M&A deals and to negotiating merger remedies.
We have experience dealing with the foreign direct investment screening regime in Spain in connection with weapons and dual-use products, where we have assisted in past transactions. We also have experience with the FDI screening regime recently approved in Spain, which affects a much wider range of industries related to public interest or public security (see here and here).
We have clients in the heavy industries, pharmaceutical, distribution and consumer goods sectors and are knowledgeable in the subtleties of distribution law and competitor collaboration. Another area of interest for us is the interface between antitrust law and IP. We have had a leading role in software and media content licensing matters with a regulatory component and have long-standing media and technology clients.
Our capabilities comprise:
- Second-to-none expertise attending surprise inspections or ‘dawn raids’ by the European Commission and the National Authority, making sure our clients are well protected from undue administrative intromission.
- All aspects of cartels and allegedly illegal or suspicious practices and agreements.
- Experience in the interface between IP and competition. Licensing, output deals, television rights, standard-setting. Antitrust issues related to generic entry in the pharmaceutical sector.
- National and European Commission merger filings; we have coordinated multijurisdictional filings and participated in the Spanish part of major multijurisdictional filings. To this end, we have developed a close network of international contacts, antitrust experts in each jurisdiction. In particular, we have a track record of coordinating filings in Spain and Portugal.
- Analysis, from a competition law standpoint, of non-competition agreements, co-operation agreements between competitors, joint ventures, purchasing organisations and similar arrangements.
- We have expertise in the niche area of State aid law and have acted before the European Commission and national courts on this subject.
- Public procurement law.
- Unfair practices and unfair competition litigation.
- Trade regulation and laws related to commercial offers and promotions.
- Vertical restraints and distribution law.
- Foreign direct investments (FDI) screening regime in Spain.
Our transactional track record includes historic deals such as the EUR 706 million acquisition of Prisa‘s pay-TV platform Digital+ by Telefonica; the US$ 4.5 billion acquisition of Motorola by Zebra; the EUR 734 million public takeover offer for Banco Guipuzcoano; the EUR 12.8 billion public takeover offer for Altadis, the EUR 22.55 billion initial public takeover offer for Endesa (for the financers); the EUR 6.54 billion public takeover offer for Autostrade, and the merger control review processes in the EUR 145 million acquisition of Jajah by Telefonica/O2, the national merger control aspects of the US$ 3.3 billion acquisition of Burger King by 3G Capital; the acquisition and later (failed) disposal of Spanair, at the time Spain’s number 2 airline, to name but a few corporate transactions where we have held a leading role as antitrust counsel. We have also successfully managed clearance of complex mergers in the pharmaceutical sector such as the US$ 690 million acquisition of Mallinckrodt in the radiopharmaceuticals sector or the disposal by UCB Pharma of its Septrin division. We have also represented interested third parties in complex transactions such as the television mergers Telecinco/Cuatro and Antena 3/La Sexta.
In cartel matters, we have had leading roles in many investigations (e.g., road construction, paper recycling, food associations, movie exhibition, football broadcasting rights, car distribution, ball bearings, movie output deals and Barcelona harbor antitrust investigations). Our hands-on approach and responsiveness levels have enabled us to ensure excellent results and high client satisfaction, enabling us to minimize our clients exposure to fines. We also have a good experience in using legal tools such as negotiated outcomes for antitrust proceedings, enabling a fairly quick and clean termination (e.g., proceedings in the professional insurance and provision of trademark related services).
We have formed part of the legal teams working on the European Commission Microsoft and Rambus cases and are well versed in the area of unilateral conduct/abuse of dominant position, where we currently advise various companies in ongoing investigations. We have also worked substantially in the area of vertical restraints and relationships between suppliers and purchasers. Occasionally, this advice has been given on the demand side (e.g., large joint purchasing organization); other times, we have advised consumer goods and food suppliers in their relationships with retail stores and supermarkets which incurred in aggressive commercial strategies capable of harming our clients. In Spain, for instance, de-listing by some retailers has been an important issue in the last few years, to the concern of some food and consumer goods manufacturers.
In the field of State aid, we have advised in the framework of various financing and acquisition matters and in the areas of air transportation, banking, cement and construction materials, rolling out of broadband networks and in connection with State-owned television operators. Our team has also advised interested third parties in State aid proceedings at the European Commission level.
We represent internet and technology high growth companies throughout all stages of their development as well as the venture capital firms and other investors that finance these high growth companies.