By Susan Ning, Liu Jia and Hazel Yin

On 22 February, 2013, Guizhou Provincial Pricing Administration (“Guizhou Pricing Administration”) released the decision to impose a penalty of RMB 247 million (about USD 39.8 million) on Kweichow Moutai, the most famous Chinese state-owned producer of premium liquor, for administering resale price maintenance (“RPM”).  On the same day, Sichuan Provincial Development and Reform Commission (“Sichuan PDRC”) released its decision to penalize Wuliangye, another state-owned premium liquor producer, in an amount of RMB 202 million (about USD 32.6 million) for RPM as well.  Both agencies are local counterparts of the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), which is charged with the responsibility to enforce against price-related monopoly agreements, including RPM under the Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”).

The news has made a huge stir, because this is the first time the Chinese AML enforcement agencies penalized RPM under the AML.  Besides, the two fines add up to RMB 449 million (about USD 72.4 million) in total, the largest penalty in China’s AML enforcement history so far.
Continue Reading Chinese Antitrust Authorities Imposed Large Fines on Kweichow Moutai and Wuliangye for Resale Price Maintenance

By Susan Ning, Liu Jia and Kate Peng

China’s famous producers of premium liquor, Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd. (Maotai) and Wuliangye Group Co., Ltd. (Wuliangye) recently announced that they would correct their behaviors suspicious of AML violation.  The corrections were said to be made after the companies being “inspected” by the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and the relevant provincial pricing administration. It has been the hottest topic on China’s Anti-monopoly Law (the “AML”) after the resounding LCD panel case closed by NDRC in early this month.

Maotai and Wuliangye are both famous Chinese premium liquor brands and the price of their products is relatively high in tradition.  In early January, the companies issued notices respectively announcing punishments on the distributors who sold their products at a price below the lowest resale price set by the companies.  Maotai also punished the distributors who made cross-regional sales. It is reported that the chairman of Maotai even stated in a recent countrywide distributor meeting that the retail price of Feitian Maotai can not be less than 1,519 yuan and the price of group-purchase can not be less than 1,400 yuan, and that Moutai would sternly punish those who breach the price “fortress”. 
Continue Reading NDRC Say No to Resale Price Maintenance – Company should be Cautious on Pricing Strategy

By Susan Ning and Kate Peng

In August 2012, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce published the fifth draft of the Guidelines on Anti-Monopoly Law Enforcement in the Field of Intellectual Property (the “Draft Guidelines“). Although compulsory licensing is not expressly mentioned in the Draft Guidelines, many provisions therein seem to imply it being a possible remedy for relevant monopolistic conducts in the IP field. For example, where a dominant market player’s refusal to license has anti-competitive effects1, a compulsory license could be the right answer to the problem. However, the role to be played by the antitrust enforcement agencies in compulsory licensing is not clearly defined under the current legal system.

There are very limited provisions in the Chinese law with respect to compulsory licensing.
Continue Reading What is the role of an antitrust enforcement agency in compulsory licensing?

By Susan Ning, Liu Jia and Kate Peng

It is generally known that the antitrust enforcement powers are shared by three government authorities in China: the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”),  which is responsible for merger control,  the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), which is responsible for price-related monopoly conducts, and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”), which is responsible for non-price related monopoly conducts.  Compared to the former two authorities, SAIC  keeps a relatively low profile on its antitrust enforcement actions. 

On July 11, Director General of the Anti-Monopoly and Anti-Unfair Competition Enforcement Bureau of SAIC (“AMAUCEB”), Ms. Ren Airong (任爱荣) made a speech at a conference and introduced the fruits of antitrust enforcement by SAIC since the Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”)  came into effect on August 1, 2008. 

Continue Reading A General Picture of SAIC’s Antitrust Enforcement

By Susan Ning, Wu Han, and Sun Yiming

On 13 March, Mr. Zhang Guangyuan, Deputy Director of the Anti-monopoly Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) spoke on the latest development of NDRC’s antitrust investigation on China Telecom and China Unicom. Mr.Zhang said that the two companies have so far completed a 100G bandwidth expansion and committed to further reduce the internet access service charges. The Anti-monopoly Bureau of the NDRC will continue to press for rectification and reform of the two companies.

This investigation was initiated last April, targeting at China Telecom and China Unicom for their alleged abuse of market dominance in the Internet access market by administering price discrimination against different Internet service providers (ISPs)1. On December 2, 2011, the two companies publicized statement on their websites saying they have submitted applications to the NRDC for suspension of the antitrust investigation and decided to correct their misconduct, but NDRC demanded more concrete pledges.

Continue Reading Latest Development re NDRC’s Antitrust Investigation against China Telecom

By  Susan Ning, Ji Kailun and Yin Ranran

On December 12th, 2011, the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM") conditionally approved the acquisition of the hard disk drive ("HDD") business of the Korean Samsung Electronics ("Samsung") by the US Seagate Technology ("Seagate")1. This is the 4th conditional approval of this year and the 10th conditional approval by MOFCOM since China’s Anti-Monopoly Law ("AML") entered into effect in 2008.

According to MOFCOM’s announcement, this review process lasted for almost 7 months starting from May 19th when the notification was first submitted to MOFCOM. The review process entered into the Extended Phase II and was cleared on the next business day of the expiry date of this phase.2  
 

Continue Reading With Conditions, MOFCOM Clears Seagate/Samsung Deal

By Susan Ning, Sun Yiming, Liu Jia and Yin Ranran

On December 13, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) asked China Telecom to submit more detailed "rectification proposal" in relation to its pledge for suspension of antitrust probe1.   Earlier on December 2, China Telecom and China Unicom announced that they have applied to the NDRC for suspension of its antitrust investigation into their internet access pricing practices, by promising to adjust the internet access prices and overhaul their broadband services (see our article entitled "China Telecom and China Unicom Seek to Settle Antitrust Probe").

Continue Reading NDRC Demands More Concrete Pledges from China Telecom

By Susan Ning, Ding Liang, Liu Jia and Sun Yiming

On November 14, the National Development and Reform Commission ("NDRC") announced its decision to fine two private pharmaceutical companies nearly RMB 7 million for violating the Anti-monopoly Law ("AML")1. The penalty decision was released right after the NDRC publicly confirmed its investigation over China Telecom and China Union for alleged abuse of dominance in the broadband market. It seemed that the NDRC could not wait to show its determination to enforce the AML with another striking case.

Continue Reading NDRC Fined Two Pharmaceutical Companies for Abusive Conducts

By Susan Ning, Sun Yiming, Liu Jia and Yin Ranran

On 2 December 2011, China Telecom and China Unicom announced that they have applied to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for suspension of its antitrust investigation into their internet access pricing practices, by promising to adjust the internet access prices and overhaul their broadband services.

According to their announcements 1, China Telecom and China Unicom stated that they have proactively cooperated with the NDRC’s investigation and have engaged in "self-evaluation" of the challenged pricing practices.  Both companies acknowledged "room for improvement" for their interconnection services and pricing practices.

Continue Reading China Telecom and China Unicom Seek to Settle Antitrust Probe

By Susan Ning, Ji Kailun and Yin Ranran

Only 10 days after its conditional clearance of the Alpha V/Savio deal1, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) published, on 10 November 2011, the third conditional merger clearance of this year approving the proposed joint venture between General Electric (China) Ltd. (GE China) and China Shenhua Coal to Liquid and Chemical Co., Ltd. (CSCLC)2

This is the first conditional decision relating to a Chinese Stated-owned enterprise (SOE) and the number of MOFCOM’s conditional clearance decisions is lifted to nine in total.  According to MOFCOM’s announcement, the review process lasted for about 7 months starting from April 13 when the notification was first submitted to MOFCOM.


Continue Reading MOFCOM Imposed Conditions on SOEs – GE/Shenhua Deal