EU and competition in Spain
Miguel Odriozola leads the Clifford Chance practice, which specialises in competition matters before the European Commission and the Spanish Competition Authority. His team includes senior associates Ana Latorre, who is experienced in infringement and merger control; Belén Irissarry, whose expertise lies in Spanish and European competition law; and the recently promoted counsel Begoña Barrantes. The firm counts Telefónica, Samsung, Nokia and Banco Santander among its clients, and in a recent highlight successfully represented Oracle before the Supreme Court in an abuse of dominance case. The practice also acted for Telefónica in challenging the €47m fine imposed by the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia; the fine was eventually fully annulled.
Marcos Araujo leads the 'extremely responsive, practical-minded and technically knowledgeable' team at J&A Garrigues SLP. The practice specialises in complex national and multi-jurisdictional merger filings and is particularly active in litigation before the EU Courts. The team includes the experienced Luis Ortiz Blanco, who is an expert in infringement proceedings and litigation, and specialist in complex merger proceedings Susana Cabrera. The firm is representing hotel group Meliá Hotels in an investigation regarding hotel accommodation agreements concluded between Meliá and European tour operators, as well as assisting Google and its parent company Alphabet with issues relating to the European Commission's decision regarding the licensing of its mobile operating system.
Specialising in global competition work, Uría Menéndez provides ‘quality advice, in particular the ability to understand multi-disciplinary and complex matters’. Leading the ‘strategic, pragmatic’ and ‘highly-skilled’ team are Jaime Folguera, who has expertise in competition law issues arising from M&A deals, and Antonio Guerra, who is experienced in competition law in various jurisdictions. Also recommended is cartel specialist Patricia Vidal, who ‘relentlessly pursues excellence, focusing on understanding the business needs of the client’. The practice is acting for DAF on a number of damage proceedings brought in Spain regarding the European truck cartel case, as well as representing Banco Santander and Banco Popular in 102 proceedings before the European Union General Court, resulting from the resolution of Banco Popular by the EU Single Resolution Board.
Cuatrecasas specialises in merger control and preventative antitrust advice. Cani Fernández leads the practice and has experience in advising Spanish and international companies across the competition field. Counsel Irene Moreno-Tapia is head of the Barcelona team and her expertise covers investigations, merger control and competition appeal cases. The department represented Air Liquide and Gasmedi in matters arising from a medicinal gases investigation by Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. The firm is also acting for British American Tobacco in an appeal before the Supreme Court, challenging a judgment that defines the scope and content of certain promotional activities. Other key clients include Agrolimen and Cementos Portland.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has experience across the sector, with particular expertise in multi-jurisdictional competition matters. Practice head Álvaro Iza specialises in merger control matters before the European Commission and the Spanish competition authority. He leads a practice that includes Francisco Cantos and counsel Enrique Carrera, who has significant EU state aid experience. In a recent highlight, the team is representing Volvo Renault Trucks in all Spanish private damages litigation following the European Commission’s decision to impose cartel fines of almost €3bn. The firm also advised Hochtief AG on the merger control aspects of its takeover bid for Abertis, and the subsequent agreement between ACS Group, Hochtief AG and Atlantia to jointly acquire control over Abertis.
Martínez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann (MLAB)
Martínez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann (MLAB) is a boutique firm specialising in private litigation linked to antitrust and unfair competition cases. The firm ‘digs deep into the details of the business in respect to competition law’. The team is led by founding partners Santiago Martínez Lage and Rafael Allendesalazar; and the ‘knowledgeable and trusted’ Helmut Brokelmann, who is ‘sharp in his analysis’. Also notable is Paloma Martinez Lage, who has ‘a deep understanding of each case’. The practice is representing Renfe in the appeal against a fine imposed by the Spanish competition authority for allegedly colluding with Deutsche Bahn, as well as acting for Orange Spain in its appeal against the €29.5m fine imposed by the Comisión Nacional de la Competencia, for abuse of a collective dominant position with Telefonica and Vodafone.
Allen & Overy
Allen & Overy is ‘truly impressive, fast and valuable’, particularly in merger control matters and representing clients before the Spanish competition authority. Practice head Antonio Martínez is ‘a stand-out competition law partner’, and his team is representing Accenture in infringement proceedings by the Spanish competition authority, relating to a number of public tenders for the development and maintenance of software. In another recent highlight, the practice is acting for Altadis in investigations related to the tobacco industry in Spain. Other key clients include Red Eléctrica de España, Axion and Novartis.
Hogan Lovells International LLP fields ‘a competent and agile antitrust team that always meets the needs and expectations of the client’. Working across merger control, compliance and cartel cases, the practice has particular expertise in regulated sectors, including the automotive, insurance and financial services sectors. ‘Efficient and smart’ practice head Casto González-Páramo has ‘a deep knowledge and extensive experience of competition law’. The department is representing CaixaBank in a contentious administrative appeal against sanctions imposed by the Spanish competition authority related to alleged price fixing of hedging derivatives in syndicated loan products, as well as acting for Fiat Chrysler following the sanction imposed for its alleged participation in the vehicle manufacturers' information-sharing cartel.
Specialising in merger control and cartel-related litigation work, Linklaters stands out for its ‘technical knowledge and wide experience in antitrust matters, as well as its dedication to clients’. Jaime Pérez-Bustamante leads the team and has experience in the competition aspects of M&A transactions. Also notable is counsel Fredrik Löwhagen, who has particular expertise in EU state aid law, and senior associate Juan Passás, who is ‘a pleasure to work with, knowledgeable on antitrust and always there when you need him’. The team is advising Rhôneon on the public merger of its affiliate Zodiac, a global manufacturer of residential pool equipment, with Fluidra. In another highlight, the practice is representing Banco Santander in relation to the antitrust investigation by the Spanish competition authority into interest-rate derivatives attached to syndicated loans.
Pérez-Llorca focuses on cartel and merger control matters. The practice was boosted by the arrival of new team leader Juan Jiménez-Laiglesia, who joined from EY Abogados in 2018. Also notable is specialist in EU litigation Juan Manuel Rodríguez Cárcamo. In recent highlights, the department advised Banco Santander on merger control aspects concerning the acquisition of Banco Popular Español, and acted for Deutsche Bahn in an investigation by the Spanish competition authority related to the alleged infringement of certain agreements entered into with Renfe.
The ‘responsive’ team at Ashurst LLP ‘provides clear and practical solutions to complex matters’, particularly in relation to cartel investigations, merger control and litigation before the European Court of Justice. ‘Smart, quick and reliable’ practice head Rafael Baena is ‘a true expert with a deep commercial understanding of the industry’ and combines ‘an outstanding knowledge of local, EU and comparative law with the ability to provide extremely practical and concise advice’. The team represented HP before the Supreme Court in its appeal against a decision of the Spanish competition authority. In another highlight, the firm acted for Hyundai in its appeal before the Audiencia Nacional against the €4.5m fine imposed for participation in an exchange of information cartel in the Spanish automobile sector.
Baker McKenzie has ‘an excellent understanding of background law and contract format’, as well as providing ‘constructive and to-the-point advice’. Working on a broad range of matters across the sector, the ‘quick, pleasant and productive’ team is led by the experienced Valeria Enrich, Alberto Escudero and Carles Prat, and successfully represented Honda Motor Europe before the Spanish Supreme Court, achieving the full annulment of the €1.2m fine imposed by the Spanish competition authority, which alleged that Honda had participated in an agreement with its dealers. The practice also acted for FedEx and TNT Express in infringement proceedings before the Spanish competition authority.
Gómez-Acebo & Pombo specialises in multi-juristictional work in the areas of state aid, cartels and merger control. Iñigo Igartua leads the practice from Barcelona, which also works from offices in Madrid and Brussels. In recent highlights, the team acted for Smurfit Kappa España in appealing a decision of the Spanish competition authority to impose fines for alleged collusion in the paper and cardboard markets, and represented Plásticos Españoles, a plastic sheeting, packaging and bag manufacturer, in a damages claim before the European Court of Justice related to an alleged plastic bags cartel.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
The main areas of expertise for the ‘results-driven and client-focused’ team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP are in the retail, distribution and digital markets. The firm also has particular experience in cartel investigations and complex cross-border mergers. The ‘outstanding’ practice head Henar Gonzalez is ‘pragmatic, quick and efficient’. Her team advised Eroski on the sale of 98 outlets of Dapargel to the German group Douglas, and successfully acted for Abengoa, achieving the reduction of a fine imposed by the Spanish competition authority from €44m to €0.4m.
‘Outstanding’ legacy firm Marimón Abogados merged with boutique firm Rating Legis SLP, which also specialises in competition law. The combination boosts the firm’s ability to ‘carefully analyse the situation and provide the best legal assistance’. ‘Valuable competition lawyer’ Diego Crespo, who ‘has a deep knowledge of the consumer goods sector, and provides creative solutions’, leads the practice with ‘detail-oriented’ Stefan Rating. The ‘professional and well-coordinated team’ also includes senior associate Yolanda Martínez, who specialises in competition and regulatory law, notably in the pharmaceutical sector. The practice is advising key client Unilever on competition matters that arise in its day-to-day activities in Spain.
Bird & Bird's work ranges across the competition area and the team benefits from its ability to work closely with the full-service firm’s experts in other sectors. Practice head Patricia Liñán, who joined from CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo in 2017, specialises in antitrust damages claims. Her department is representing Lactalis in its appeal before the Constitutional Court against the dawn raids carried out by the Spanish Competition authority related to its alleged participation in exchanges of information between dairy industries on pricing and commercial strategies. In another highlight, the group is acting for Adveo in the appeal against a fine in connection with the envelopes for exports cartel case.
Boutique competition law practice Callol, Coca & Asociados is ‘responsive, engaged, level headed and excellent at working under pressure’. The team has experience across the sector and is led by ‘excellent’ founding partner Pedro Callol. The firm is acting for Oxford University Press España in an ongoing antitrust investigation into the textbook market in Spain, as well as representing 20th Century Fox before the Supreme Court in an appeal concerning a decision issued by the Spanish competition authority that impacts the movie exhibition business in Spain.
Expert in the consumer goods sector, CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo has a particular focus on competition and distribution matters. Experienced competition partner Carlos Vérgez arrived from BROSETA Abogados in 2018 and leads the practice. The firm advised Acciona on the sale of its shipping subsidiary Trasmediterránea to Naviera Armas, and represented Lactalis in an appeal before the Spanish National Court related to an €88m fine imposed for the exchange of information on purchase prices, milk surpluses and breeders. Former head Patricia Liñán joined Bird & Bird in 2018.
DelaCalle Abogados SLP
DelaCalle Abogados SLP is a specialist competition boutique with ‘expertise in legislation’. The ‘detailed and professional’ José Antonio de la Calle leads the practice and is known for his ‘availability and responsiveness’. Also notable is antitrust specialist Sanna Orkan. The team represented American Express Global Business Travel in a merger control investigation following its acquisition of Barceló’s minority shareholding in its Spanish joint venture. In another recent highlight, the firm represented Solidal Condutores Eléctricos in an appeal before the National High Court related to a fine of €44.7m for alleged price fixing and contracts distribution collusion.
The practice at DLA Piper LLP focuses on transactions, cartels, compliance, enforcement and litigation. The team is particularly active in infringement procedures. Legal director Joaquin Hervada leads the department and his expertise is in M&A and infringement procedures. The firm is representing Dentsu Aegis Network in relation to a dawn raid and subsequent investigation by the Spanish competition authority into media agencies, as well as acting for Urbaser in its appeal before the Spanish National Court against the fine imposed on several companies active in the municipal waste industry. Former practice head José María Jiménez-Laiglesia left to join Latham & Watkins LLP in September 2018.
Jones Day specialises in multi-jurisdictional cartel and merger work for clients including IBM, Cintra and Energya. Specialist in competition and energy law Raimundo Ortega Bueno leads the practice with Marta Delgado Echevarría, who is experienced in cartel cases and merger filings. In a recent highlight, the team is representing Cooperativas Agroalimentarias de España, a major player in the unmanned petrol stations market, in an appeal against various regional regulations that require all petrol stations to be manned.
King & Wood Mallesons
King & Wood Mallesons specialises in advising Latin American countries on the competition aspects of cross-border M&A deals. Leading the practice is Alfredo Guerrero and Ramon Garcia Gallardo, who is experienced in proceedings before the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. The team is representing Valencia Club de Fútbol in state aid proceedings opened by the European Commission, which concern a guarantee granted by the Valencia regional government to the Fundación Valencia CF. In another highlight, the group is advising the German investment company Aurelius Group on competition issues arising from the acquisition of Abelan Board Industrial.
The ‘superb and thorough’ MVA ASOCIADOS has ‘a deep knowledge of competition, particularly in the energy sector’. The team focuses on compliance matters, infringement proceedings and merger control, providing ‘in-depth technical knowledge and an ability to translate this expertise into pragmatic hands-on action’. The practice is led by the ‘pragmatic, sharp and quick’ Eduardo Abril, who is ‘an expert in the field, with great knowledge of the industry’ and an ability to ‘think outside-of-the-box’. The team advised Armando Álvarez on competition issues arising from the company’s acquisition of Envaflex, as well as representing Gas Natural Fenosa, in an appeal against the fine imposed by the Spanish competition authority.