EU and competition in Austria
bpv Hügel specialises in merger control, antitrust and international cartel defence work. Practice head Astrid Ablasser-Neuhuber advised a real estate company on complex capital markets, merger control and antitrust issues stemming from a takeover involving the two other leading Austrian real estate companies, and represented the Austrian Association for the Wood Industry in a third-party intervention in the largest Austrian merger of office furniture companies. Ablasser-Neuhuber and Gerhard Fussenegger, the co-managing partner of the firm's Brussels office, are also advising Axel Springer on all its competition and merger control proceedings in Austria. Antitrust litigation expert Florian Neumayr and Christian Schneider, who specialises in EU law, are also key members of the team. The practice's blue-chip client base also includes A1 Telekom Austria, Raiffeisen Ware Austria and Verbund.
Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte) is active in high-profile antitrust, merger control and state aid matters and regularly represents Austrian clients before EU institutions. Hanno Wollmann acted for Altstoff Recycling Austria in one of the few article 102 TFEU cases before the European Commission, which was the first abuse of dominance case to result in a settlement. Practice head Franz Urlesberger is acting for paper and packaging group Mondi in relation to European Commission investigations of alleged collusion in the European kraft paper and industrial paper bags market. The team is also handling cartel damages matters, advising Daimler on follow-on damages claims from the European trucks cartel and acting for Kone in relation to the elevators and escalators cartel. Volker Weiss, who is based in Brussels, is also noted.
Binder Grösswang is particularly strong in the pharmaceutical, transport (especially railways), food and beverages, industrial, energy, banking and finance, and gaming sectors. The team 'knows competition law inside out'; it acts for Coca-Cola HBC Austria, Lenzing and Novomatic, among others, and has recently won several significant new clients, including Samsung Austria, GlaxoSmithKline, Metro Cash & Carry and Magna International. Department head Raoul Hoffer ('a top competition lawyer') and the 'responsive' and 'committed' Christine Dietz represented German wagon-leasing company VTG in one of the few phase II merger control proceedings to take place in Austria last year. Assisted by counsel Isabelle Innerhofer (who is praised for her 'practical, problem-solving approach'), Hoffer also acted for the city of Vienna and the federal state of Upper Austria in follow-up damages proceedings relating to the elevator and escalator cartel. Other areas of expertise include state aid and abuse of dominance cases. Johannes Barbist is also noted.
Cerha Hempel handles state aid and cartel investigation proceedings, as well as advising clients on their compliance measures. The team has also been involved in a series of high-profile merger control cases: it represented OMV before the European Commission in merger control proceedings relating to its acquisition of joint control of Smatrics; acted for the sellers of Hali and Svoboda in proceedings that involved the four largest manufacturers of office furniture in the Austrian market; and represented Austria Asphalt before the Court of Justice of the European Union in proceedings concerning the merger control aspects relating to a joint venture with Teerag-Asdag. Bernhard Kofler-Senoner heads the team, which also includes Anna Wolf-Posch, who joined as a partner from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in January 2018, and counsel Michael Mayer .
The team at Eisenberger & Herzog advises on a wide range of competition and EU law, including merger control proceedings, dawn raids, and cartel and abuse of dominance cases, and counts a number of leading Austrian companies among its clients. Practice head Dieter Thalhammer represented a manufacturing company in merger control proceedings regarding the sale of its production facilities in Austria, and acted as Austrian counsel to an automotive company in private enforcement proceedings relating to the trucks cartel. In addition, Judith Feldner advised a multinational electronics company on the merger control aspects of an investment relating to the autonomous vehicles market. Andreas Zellhofer is also a key member of the practice.
Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwalte GmbH & CoKG is noted for advising on merger control proceedings, cartel investigations and damages cases, dawn raids, abuse of dominance cases and state aid matters across a range of industries, including retail, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, construction, transport (particularly airlines), chemicals and TMT. Practice head Günter Bauer is 'an outstanding lawyer in every aspect' and 'ensures his competition team meets the highest standard'. He represented two major telecoms companies in EU Commission merger control proceedings concerning one of the biggest transactions in the Austrian telecoms sector. Counsel Jochen Anweiler advised China-based producer of home appliances Hisense on the EU and national merger control aspects of its public takeover offer for the acquisition of all shares in Slovenian white goods manufacturer Gorenje. Other key clients include Airbus and the Kraft Heinz Company. Bucharest-based Adrian Ster and newly promoted counsel Robert Wagner are also recommended.
Baker McKenzie • Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG handles cartel litigation, merger control, abuse of dominant position, distribution and licensing, and state aid matters, with a particular focus on competition litigation and regulated industries. Practice head Andreas Traugott is defending elevator and escalator firm Schindler and debit card provider Six Austria against private enforcement claims; he also acted for a number of clients, including Sappi, Haushahn Aufzüge and Motorola Solutions, in relation to merger control proceedings.
Isabella Hartung heads the practice at Barnert Egermann Illigasch Rechtsanwälte GmbH, which is 'extremely responsive' and 'well organised' and 'delivers exceptional service'. The team is noted for its strength in the energy, transport, construction and media sectors; recent highlights include acting as Austrian counsel (alongside White & Case LLP) to Triton on the merger control filing required for the acquisition of Zarges. The team is also advising construction company Porr on competition law matters.
The healthcare and pharmaceutical sector is a key focus for the team at Dorda Rechtsanwalte GmbH, which counts Novartis Group, Kwizda, GlaxoSmithKline, Orpéa Group and a number of Austrian manufacturing businesses among its clients. Practice head Heinrich Kühnert is 'an excellent attorney with passion, deep knowledge, and a wide range of experience and humanity': 'he is always willing to make any effort to get the best results'. Highlights included Kühnert and of counsel Elisabeth König advising manufacturing company on the acquisition of a business with production sites in the US and Germany, and acting for Robopolis, a European distributor of electronic consumer goods, in proceedings before the Austrian Federal Competition Authority regarding alleged resale price maintenance.
Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte GmbH
The 'customer-oriented' team at Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte GmbH 'thinks strategically' and 'tackles challenges creatively'. The practice is led by Axel Reidlinger ('one of the most respected competition lawyers in Austria') and advises on merger control, cartels and private enforcement cases, among other matters. Highlights included acting for a market research company in private enforcement proceedings before the Cartel Court to obtain an injunction against a dominant competitor and representing a metal products manufacturer in a merger control matter before the Austrian and German Federal Competition Authorities relating to the establishment of a joint venture. Styria Media, Volvo Car Austria, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and Österreichische Post are among the firm's other clients.
The 'first-class' team at Saxinger, Chalupsky & Partners (SCWP Schindhelm) advises on cartel investigations, merger control, dawn raids and follow-on damages claims, among other matters. 'Pragmatic', 'hands-on' practice head Christina Hummer, who divides her time between Vienna and Brussels, represented employees of Kaefer who were facing criminal sanctions for bid rigging before the General Federal Competition Prosecutor and the Prosecutor for Corruption; this was the first Austrian cartel case where employees subject to criminal prosecution applied for personal leniency. Markus Fellner, who is 'precise in his advice' and 'never loses sight of the practical needs of the client', assisted transport and logistics company Gartner with two merger control filings in Germany and Austria concerning its acquisition of German transport company Gustav Ziegler. Senior partner Wolfgang Lauss is advising the Business Upper Austria agency on whether a government subsidy granted to the client could constitute state aid.
Schima Mayer Starlinger Rechtsanwälte GmbH's EU and competition practice is noted for its strength in the energy, media and tourism sectors. Practice head Christian Mayer represented Sri Trang Agro-Industries in proceedings relating to restrictions on the global distribution of joint venture products, leading to a landmark judgment by the Austrian Supreme Court; acted for a financial services company in Austrian merger control proceedings concerning the acquisition of a leading manufacturer; and is advising the Association of Austrian Hoteliers on a variety of matters, including competition law, state aid and general EU legislation. Moritz Am Ende is also noted.
Taylor Wessing Austria handles dawn raids, penalty proceedings before the Cartel Court and merger control proceedings, among other matters, with particular expertise in the food retail and construction industries. Highlights included practice head Martin Eckel representing BGO, the owner of the two biggest Austrian office furniture producers, before the Austrian competition authorities in merger control proceedings relating to the acquisition of Hali and Svoboda, the third and fourth largest players in the Austrian office furniture market. The team regularly handles merger control filings across the CEE region and also advises clients on competition compliance. Other clients include VÖB, Nestlé and Pernod Ricard. Senior associate David Konrath is also noted.
BECKER GÜNTHER POLSTER REGNER Rechtsanwälte GmbH
Bernt Elsner, who is noted for his experience in cross-border merger control matters, heads the practice at CMS, covering cartel law, merger control, abuse of dominance, state aid and antitrust compliance and damages matters. Dieter Zandler is also a key member of the team; he regularly represents international and Austrian clients before the national competition authorities and the European Commission.
Claudine Vartian heads the team at DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach, which specialises in investigations, merger control proceedings and abuse of dominant position cases. Many key clients are from regulated industries; among other matters, the team advised Energie-Control Austria on the separation of the Austrian and German electricity pricing zone. Other highlights include 'competent' and 'collegial' counsel Florian Schuhmacher advising HBB-Haas Beratung und Beteiligungen on the competition law aspects of the sale of its global group headquartered in Austria to Swiss-based technology corporation Bühler, and Porr on the competition law aspects of acquisitions in the construction industry.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
The team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer handles antitrust, merger control and state aid law, focusing particularly on the pharmaceutical, chemical, transport and logistics sectors. Practice head Thomas Lübbig, who is based in Berlin, has extensive experience representing clients before the EU Commission and European Court of Justice.
Haslinger/Nagele & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
Dr. Peter Thyri
Peter Thyri, the founder of boutique firm Dr. Peter Thyri, handles cartel enforcement proceedings, merger control, private enforcement and state aid matters. Thyri also advises on competition compliance training. Clients range from international listed companies and government bodies to privately owned SMEs.