TICKET DISTRIBUTORS FAILED TO SUSPEND MERGER CONTROL PROCEDURE

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Court) concluded that the company Baltic Ticket Holdings which acquired UAB Nacionalinis bilietų platintojas shall submit a merger filing to the Competition Council which started merger control proceedings on its own initiative.

On May 17 the Competition Council decided to initiate merger control proceedings against Baltic Ticket Holdings which had acquired 100 per cent of Nacionalinis bilietų platintojas shares. The Council suspected that the merger might have resulted in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position or a substantial restriction of competition in the ticket distribution market. Baltic Ticket Holdings was obliged to submit a merger filing within two months.

Baltic Ticket Holdings appealed the Council’s decision and asked the Court to suspend it while the litigation process is still ongoing. Both Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania refused the request by Baltic Ticket Holdings and concluded that the company shall submit a notification to the Council. Having evaluated the circumstances related to the case the Court noted that the suspension of the Council’s decision would extend the duration of merger control proceedings, and cause harm to the third parties engaged in the activities of the relevant markets, as well as the public interest if the Council found that the merger had negative effects on competition.

The intended merger must be notified to the Competition Council and clearance must be obtained if the combined aggregate income of merging parties in the business year preceding the merger exceeds EUR 14.5 million and the aggregate income of each of at least two merging parties in the business year preceding the merger exceeds EUR 1.45 million.

Even though the aggregate income does not exceed the limits entrenched in the Law on Competition, the Competition Council may initiate merger control proceedings in those cases when the intended merger is likely to result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position or a substantial restriction of competition in a relevant market, and when such merger has been implemented within the last 12 months.