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Amendments to the Serbian Law on Protection of Competition were published in the Official Gazette on 31 October 2013 and will come into force on 8 November 2013. The adopted amendments to a large extent follow solutions from the draft which the Government submitted to the Parliament back in July this year. We devoted two earlier blog posts to various drafts of the amendments (apart from the Government's July draft, we also analyzed the initial draft published in April). Now that the amendments have ripened into law, it is worth providing an overview of the most important changes to the competition legislation.
The Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition has published its Annual Report for 2012. Because the Commission publishes its decisions and opinions randomly, the report offers an informative scan of the authority’s activities in the course of the previous year.
The Commission for Protection of Competition has issued an opinion(1) on public procurement and consortium agreements concluded between competitors in tendering and public procurement procedures.
The commission views consortium agreements as restrictive agreements, as they inevitably set prices and other commercial requirements for performing specific transactions. Therefore, such agreements must be submitted to the commission for an individual exemption.
The Commission for Protection of Competition has issued an opinion(1) on public procurement and consortium agreements concluded between competitors in tendering and public procurement procedures. The commission views consortium agreements as restrictive agreements, as they inevitably set prices and other commercial requirements for performing specific transactions. Therefore, such agreements must be submitted to the commission for an individual exemption.
In February 2013 the Competition Authority cleared the takeover of Hellenic Sugar Industry SA by Sunoko doo, subject to structural and behavioural measures. Hellenic Sugar is the only producer of sugar in Greece which also owns two sugar production plants in Serbia. Sunoko, on the other hand, is a producer of sugar in Serbia, part of MK Group, a vertically integrated producer of agricultural products and also has various other activities related to agricultural production. The authority prohibited the takeover at first, but clearance was issued on a second attempt.
In February 2013 the Competition Authority published the results of its sector analysis of the petroleum derivatives markets in Serbia in 2011. The analysis, carried out between April and
October 2012, considers the state of competition in the import, processing, wholesale and retail markets of petroleum and petroleum derivative products.
Since the commencement of transition process in Serbia and inflow of foreign investments, labor law has been characterized by the foreign investors as one of the main obstacles for such investments, together with the inefficient state administration, unsettled ownership status of real estate, political instability and related risks of investment etc.
In the event of a public offer of securities, in order for the securities to be offered legally to investors, a prospectus must be prepared, approved by the competent authority and published. However, Article 4 of the EU Prospectus Directive (2003/71/EC) contains certain exemptions from the obligation to publish a prospectus. For several recent mergers in Austria(1) questions have arisen as to whether they constituted public offers of shares in the transferee companies and, thus, whether prospectuses should have been published.
Five years after enacting EU-like Competition Law, the Serbian Goverment has enacted block exemption regulations for vertical and horizontal agreements. The regulations became effective on 13 March 2010 and companies have been given theree months to comply.
Serbian Parliament passed the new Competition Law earlier this month but voted to put it into effect as of 1 November. Most notably, for procedures commencingas of November, the Commission will impose fines and other sanctions directly, up to 10% of the parties’ revenues. The new law completely remodels all procedures before the Commission. The revision did little to change the substantive approach to competition rules thus keeping the law essentially compliant with EU rules.