Antitrust, competition and trade
The world's pre-eminent antitrust lawyers.
Competition and antitrust laws around the world are evolving rapidly. Authorities are increasingly using a wide range of powers to investigate mergers, markets, cartels and other behaviour.
Our competition practice offers unrivalled expertise in international, EU and national competition law matters. We have a large, highly integrated team of leading experts in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the US, who work together across multiple locations on a daily basis.
Our clients recognise that this sets us apart, so they come to us with their most significant matters.
With more than 50 partners and 300 lawyers in our worldwide competition team, we are leaders in all aspects of competition law, including mergers, cartel investigations, abuse of dominance, state aid, follow on claims and stand-alone litigation. Freshfields is the only firm to have worked on the leading cases in all these areas.
• CK Hutchison with its ground-breaking annulment action before the EU General Court (2020) against the European Commission’s prohibition of its proposed acquisition of Telefónica Europe, which operates in the UK under the brand ‘O2 UK’. Following on from our success with UPS (see below), this was only the second successful challenge to a Commission blocking decision since 2002. The judgment is also highly significant for the EU’s merger control regime because the General Court set aside legal theories that had been used in previous cases to extract significant remedies. Read our press release and blog post summarising the judgment.
• Evonik secure its landmark win (2020) against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which was trying to block Evonik’s acquisition of PeroxyChem. This was only the second time the FTC has been defeated in a merger challenge since 2011. Read our press release and listen to our podcast summarising the case.
• UPS with its successful annulment action before the EU’s General Court (2017) and Court of Justice (2019) against the European Commission’s prohibition of it acquiring TNT. This was the first successful challenge to a Commission prohibition decision since 2002, only the fourth ever at the General Court and the second only at the level of the Court of Justice.
The transaction was subject to regulatory clearances in more than 30 countries and required remedies, including a significant disposal of assets across Europe, the US and Asia, and public interest commitments in several jurisdictions. Read more about the deal in our case study.
This worldwide action, said to be the largest ever investigation into alleged cartels in a single industry (involving the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to the automotive sector), was driven by the European Commission, the US Department of Justice, and the competition regulators in Japan, South Korea and Brazil, among others.
The action was brought on behalf of around 46 million UK consumers for a total of £14bn in damages, the largest ever claim before the UK courts. Read more about the litigation in our case study.
We successfully obtained regulatory clearances in all the required jurisdictions, including unconditional approval from the European Commission, against a challenging timetable and amid intense public, political and media scrutiny. Our regulatory strategy included providing sophisticated advice to Comcast on the operation of the UK public interest regime and on its dealings with the UK Takeover Panel. Read more about the deal in our case study.
This continues to be the largest competition damages litigation ever seen in Europe, with multiple claims being pursued across a wide number of jurisdictions against a number of truck manufacturers.
Recent examples of our work in this area include advising:
• London Stock Exchange Group on the proposed $27bn acquisition of Refinitiv, a financial markets and infrastructure business;
• Infineon Technologies on its $8.7bn acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation;
• KKR on the acquisition of a €2.9bn co-controlling stake in German media group Axel Springer; and
• a group of private equity firms and institutional investors on the $3.4bn takeover of UK-based satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat.
Our practice group lead and regional contacts are listed below. You can also see our global antitrust, competition and trade team.