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Europe Guide

Competition/European Law — Austria

Overview

AUSTRIA: An Introduction to Competition/European Law Contributed by bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH

While Austria has had antitrust legislation since 1951, its regime is generally considered to be 'younger' than most of the Western European counterparts. Indeed, the change from the post-war belief that cartels were often justifiable on industrial policy grounds to a modern competition law system was gradual. Since Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995, competition rules and their enforcement have been modernised, and the application of EU law in general plays an important role in Austria’s legal system.

It may be mentioned that the EU accession has also brought state aid law matters, which can be directly enforced by the European Commission. Additionally, it introduced significant changes in the area of public and utilities procurement procedures. While the EU law impact is arguably strongest in competition law, there is virtually no area in Austrian law which has not been affected, in one way or another, by the EU law and the four freedoms (free movement of goods, capital, services, and people) it advocates and protects.

Focusing on competition law in the narrow sense, since 2002, the Austrian (public) enforcement framework provides for three main players: The independent Federal Competition Authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde, FCA) is Austria’s prosecuting agency. Its main responsibilities are the investigation of restrictions of competition as well as the phase 1 review of mergers. Unlike most European competition authorities, in general, the FCA has limited decision-making power; all decisions on violation of the behavioural antitrust rules and on mergers (in phase 2 proceedings) are made by the Cartel Court (CC), a specialised division of the Vienna Court of Appeals. The FCA has some decision making power. It can enforce information requests itself (rather than only through proceedings before the CC) by issuing binding decisions and by imposing fines if such decisions are not followed. While the CC can be used for disputes by private parties, the applications for fines as well as applications for phase 2 reviews of mergers may only be submitted by the FCA and the Federal Antitrust Attorney (Bundeskartellanwalt, FAA). The FAA, which reports to the Minister of Justice, is charged with protecting the public interest in competition enforcement.

Given the rather low filing thresholds and the wide definition of what constitutes a merger potentially affecting the Austrian market, a lot of the cases dealt with by the FCA and the FAA are merger control-related. However, as was the case elsewhere, merger filing numbers took a serious hit in the 2008 financial crisis, and continue to be lower than the pre-crisis levels. However, the FCA has brought several proceedings against cartels based on leniency applications as well as against anti-competitive vertical practices (with horizontal elements such as hub-and-spoke), where it has conducted a great number of dawn-raids. The highest fine imposed so far was for EUR75.4 million in the Austrian elevators and escalators case.

While Austrian law provides for rather strict presumptions of dominance, the dominance cases have traditionally played a less prominent role in public enforcement practice. This is also in line with the situation at EU level, where merger control and cartel investigations clearly make up the lion’s share of the European Commission’s work. Dominance issues however, continue to be pleaded in litigation between private parties before the CC and the Austrian civil courts as well as arbitral tribunals (including private enforcement and damage claims). There are a number of interfaces between general competition law requirements and regulatory regimes imposed on certain industries such as energy and telecoms.

In addition to its case work, the FCA also has the power to conduct general market investigations. The main target of the FCA’s investigations so far have been the regulated industries. In particular, the FCA has examined the Austrian oil and gas market as well as the telecoms sector. Furthermore, the FCA also investigated the Austrian retail market. It may also be noted that the FCA continues to publish fuel prices in Austria.

In line with the European trend, Austria has recently also seen a rise in private damages claims, following an imposition of fines in a case relating to driving schools and, on a far bigger scale, after the CC’s decision in the elevators and escalators case. A further prominent case relates to the investigation into the payment card industry. Most practitioners expect that private damages litigation will continue to grow and the European trucks cartel is expected to further trigger private enforcement also in Austria.

In general, most practitioners expect the demand for competition law advice to continue growing. It is driven by competition law risks as well as the strengthening of general compliance with clients seeking increasingly sophisticated solutions to difficult and new questions.

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bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Outstanding practice particularly renowned for multi-jurisdictional merger control procedures and frequently represents clients in cartel damages claims before a range of competition authorities. Advises international corporations and financial institutions on all Austrian and EU competition law matters, with expertise in the local implementation of EU directives. Substantial knowledge of state aid proceedings and compliance matters, including internal training and compliance programmes. Represents a range of clients from the energy, telecoms and consumer goods industries in competition litigation and arbitration before the European courts.

Strengths Clients appreciate that the team makes them "feel personally cared for."

Another client praises the cohesion of the firm, noting "the uncomplicated internal co-operation with other departments."

Work highlights Advised Österreichs Energie on competition matters related to the implementation of a 'Winter Package' in the common electricity market and its compatibility with EU legislation.

Represented Nichicon before the European Commission in an alleged cartel case in the electrolytic capacitors sector.

Notable practitioners

According to clients, Astrid Ablasser-Neuhuber maintains "accuracy in every detail, while not losing the overall perspective," while also being able to "react in a smart and effective way" to developments. She runs a notable competition law practice, assisting clients with a range of matters including antitrust and merger control cases before both the European and Austrian competition authorities, exemplified in recent work representing Axel Springer in merger control proceedings in Austria following a number of acquisitions.

Florian Neumayr has substantial experience operating in the competition field, focusing on cartel and merger control processes. He is particularly lauded for his expertise in competition litigation, with a notable presence in private enforcement claims. Clients describe him as a lawyer who fulfils his job "outstandingly," as well as being an "extremely pleasant" and "reliable" person to work with. He recently assisted A1 Telekom Austria with regulatory and competition issues.

About the Team (content provided by bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH)

Department profile not yet provided by bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH. Please see their firm profile.

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Schoenherr - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Acclaimed competition offering, providing an outstanding level of advice and legal representation to international and domestic clients in merger filings, antitrust proceedings and abuse of dominance investigations, as well as cartel-related matters, private enforcement and state aid litigation. Benefits from a network of offices around the CEE region to provide a team that is exceptionally well equipped to handle cross-border transactional mandates.

Strengths One client makes note of the seamless cross-border work the office does, saying that it "felt like a service provided by one office," and adding that the team was "very responsive and the work is client-friendly."

Work highlights Represented Expedia in a challenge to new Austrian legislation banning most favoured nation clauses in the online booking sector.

Advised Diebold on obtaining merger clearance for the acquisition of Wincor Nixdorf.

Notable practitioners

Clients laud Hanno Wollmann as "a first-class lawyer, who knows all the facets of our business model in detail, thinks strategically and is also available in person for spontaneous consultations." He offers market leading advice on cartel cases and complex merger control proceedings, as evidenced in recent work assisting PremiQaMed and UNIQA with merger control proceedings concerning the acquisition of 75% of the shares in a private hospital in Vienna. He has further expertise in competition-related litigation and investigations, as well as advising on state aid mandates.

Franz Urlesberger recently advised the Central European Gas Hub on comprehensive merger control procedures relating to the acquisition of the client's gas exchange business by Powernext. On top of expertise in merger control, he has substantial experience in antitrust compliance programmes and sector specific knowledge in the energy, oil and transport industries. He also acts for clients on antitrust investigations and dawn raids.

About the Team (content provided by Schoenherr)

Schoenherr’s eu & competition practice advises clients from across all industries in merger control, anti-trust and state aid matters at European and national levels throughout the firm’s comprehensive network in the CEE region, and its office in Brussels.
In addition, the practice supports other teams when specific issues under European law arise, for instance under the Accession Agreements of new Member States.



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BINDER GRÖSSWANG Rechtsanwälte GmbH - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Highly regarded firm offering a comprehensive range of competition-related advice including on abuse of dominance, merger controls and state aid laws. Covers contentious and non-contentious competition and antitrust inquiries, with notable knowledge of distribution issues and supply chain co-operations. Specific industry knowledge in the pharmaceutical, automotive and technology industries, additionally providing competition compliance assistance.

Strengths Clients describe the work as "very good, extremely precise and conscientious."

One client adds that they particularly "appreciate their good knowledge of competition law and how they apply it in practice, with a sensitive and client-friendly approach."

Further clients say the firm "provides excellent service and gets things done."

Work highlights Advised Lenzing on various competition law-related matters, including supply agreements, co-operations, marketing initiatives and merger control procedures.

Assisted Volksbank Wien with merger control and state aid law matters concerning the restructuring of the Volksbank sector.

Notable practitioners

Raoul Hoffer is described as a "very solid and strategic competition lawyer." He is an expert practitioner in a range of competition law matters including merger control, abuse of dominance and private enforcement proceedings. He recently advised a number of significant real estate companies in Austria and the City of Vienna on the first private enforcement suit related to the escalator and elevator cartel before the Austrian Commercial Court.

Christine Dietz is well respected for her compliance and state aid work, as well as her significant activity in merger control proceedings. She recently advised Puratos on competition law matters related to its acquisition of Diamant.

About the Team (content provided by BINDER GRÖSSWANG Rechtsanwälte GmbH)

The Binder Grösswang competition team is one of the biggest in Austria. That allows swift handling even of complex and particularly major cartel and market abuse cases as well as large merger notifications. In addition to issues of antitrust law, topics on laws relating to public procurement, state aid, energy and general EU law rank among our specialisations. Depending on the case and needs, our experts cooperate closely with other teams of our law firm – for instance the M&A, Corporate or Finance teams. We represent our clients before Austrian and EU authorities and in cross-border cases we work with high-level foreign partner law firms within the framework of our international network. Our approach is practical, economic and solution-focused. In addition, our clients benefit from our wide-ranging sector experience in the major industrial and commercial branches.

FOCUS

Merger notifications, antitrust proceedings in accordance with Austrian or EU antitrust law, market abuse proceedings, assertion of and defence against claims under civil law in connection with breaches of cartel law, representation and advice in state aid cases, representation in public tender proceedings, representation before public procurement authorities

CLIENTS

National and international companies, inter alia from the aforementioned industries

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CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Comprehensive practice offering national and EU advice on all types of competition matters. Renowned for handling internal investigations and cartel cases, providing clients with support during investigations by the Austrian Competition Authority and subsequent proceedings. Also represents clients before the European courts and in merger control and state aid proceedings. Strong capabilities in abuse of dominance cases, as well as compliance mandates. Particularly active in the telecoms, energy and technology sectors.

Strengths Clients say that the team demonstrated "the ability to tailor their assessments to the exact needs of the clients."

Another client says: "The entire team is extremely dedicated and has built up a special expertise," adding that: "They quickly understand what we want and know how to achieve our goals."

Work highlights Represented Cisco Systems in merger control proceedings related to its USD3.7 billion acquisition of AppDynamics.

Advised the Republic of Austria on a number of state aid cases before the European Courts.

Notable practitioners

Clients describe Bernhard Kofler-Senoner as "very smart, very flexible and precise." He is renowned for his activity on cross-border merger control proceedings, exemplified in recent work representing Austria Asphalt in merger control matters relating to a joint venture between the client and Teerag-Asdag. He also assists clients with dawn raids.

Hans Kristoferitsch is described by sources as "very knowledgeable and great to work with." He recently represented Austrian Power Grid and Vorarlberger Übertragungsnetz in pricing and competition law proceedings before the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators board of appeal. He is renowned for his skill in EU law and litigation, with further expertise in state aid, procurement and cartel cases.

Michael Mayer has a broad competition law practice, with expertise in merger control proceedings, abuse of dominant position and compliance cases, as well as antitrust and cartel cases. Clients describe him as a "very knowledgeable and dynamic" lawyer to work with.

About the Team (content provided by CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati)

Department profile not yet provided by CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati. Please see their firm profile.

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Eisenberger & Herzog - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Comprehensive team offering an all-encompassing range of advice on competition and antitrust matters, including cartel proceedings, abuse of dominance, merger control and regulatory mandates. Highly proficient in European law, representing clients in litigation and arbitration before national and EU courts. Assists with damages claims and compliance schemes, including mock investigations and training programmes. Clients include national and international corporations in the electronics, transport and energy sectors.

Strengths One satisfied client praises the firm for being "very motivated," with "great expertise," adding that "the work was just flawless."

Another client says that the firm "really delivers excellent work," with the addition that they "just get to the point, there are no unnecessary digressions. The lawyers are also always available."

Work highlights Represented ÖBB-Infrastruktur and the Port of Vienna in phase II merger control proceedings related to the creation of a joint venture combining container terminals in Vienna.

Acted for EconGas, and its parent company OMV, on Cartel Court proceedings concerning alleged violations of anti-competitive agreements.

Notable practitioners

Head of practice Dieter Thalhammer offers a broad range of expertise covering European and domestic competition law, particularly in merger control, cartels, abuse of dominance cases and follow-on damages claims. Clients describe him as "very experienced and highly qualified," adding that he has "all the assets I would seek for in competition law." He acted for ProSieben on its acquisition of ATV, the Austrian private television station, including advising on pre-notification talks and merger control proceedings.

Andreas Zellhofer is "always available," with "quick response times," as well as being "really to the point." He has particular strength in abuse of dominance cases, but also acts on state aid, cartel law proceedings and distribution law matters.

Judith Feldner "is fantastic," according to sources, who add that "she is extremely skilled, very open and easy-going and she has exceptionally good relationships with clients." She acts on a range of mandates, including merger control proceedings, cartel cases and damages claims. Recent work includes assisting the Greenbrier Companies with the establishment of a joint venture between themselves and Astra Rail, including advice on merger control proceedings before the Austrian FCA.

About the Team (content provided by Eisenberger & Herzog)

Competition/European Law

Our practice group “Competition/European Law” is one of the leading teams in Austria. Our experts are well known for their profound knowledge and their ability to react dynamically in national and international competition law cases. Our clients are corporations from various industries: transport, media, energy, chemical, real estate, finance, health care, food trade and electronic trade. Our team operates on a national and a EU-wide scale. Profound expertise, built up over many years in internal audits and compliance cases, rounds off our profile.


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Wolf Theiss - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 2

第二等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Substantial practice offering clients a network throughout the CEE region to provide consistent cross-border competition related advice across Europe. Advises multinational and regional corporations from a wide range of industries, such as the pharmaceutical, media, financial and hospitality sectors. Experienced in merger control cases, compliance and state aid law, with particular expertise in investigations and dawn raids, as well as cartel proceedings.

Strengths Clients highlight that the team is "up to date and responsive" and offers "very high-quality advice combined with a really practical approach."

Other clients praise the firm's "ability to quickly gain an overview of the respective transactions" and the "thoroughness in the legal analysis."

Work highlights Represented WM Holding in merger control proceedings before the European Commission related to the acquisition of joint control of the BUT Group.

Notable practitioners

Günter Bauer is a "distinguished expert," who "has proven to be an excellent strategist when tackling various legal challenges." He advises on the full spectrum of competition mandates, with particular strength on merger clearance matters. Further expertise includes supply agreements, state aid laws and cartel investigations.

Clients praise Jochen Anweiler for being "a fantastic lawyer, very knowledgeable and pragmatic," while also commending his range of experience. He offers a wealth of expertise in competition law, covering merger control, abuse of dominance cases and compliance matters, servicing clients from a broad range of industries including technology and construction.

About the Team (content provided by Wolf Theiss)

European and local enforcement authorities are increasing their scrutiny of companies in many sectors, particularly in matters involving competition law. Businesses need comprehensive advice to prevent unwelcome surprises down the road. Our Competition & Antitrust team helps companies assess and improve the compliance of their operations so they can focus on what is important for them: staying competitive.

We advise on EU and national competition law matters with an eye to our clients' success. This means providing reliable, predictable results, fast. For many years, we have advised and represented on all aspects of competition law, including cartel investigations, merger control, abusive practices, private enforcement (damages claims), co-operation and distribution agreements, and state aid. Organising competition law audits, providing trainings and representing clients before national competition authorities, the EU Commission and courts are among our specialties – no small matter, when you consider that Wolf Theiss has offices in 13 countries throughout CEE/SEE.



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Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Well-established firm offering a global reach and a full range of competition law advice to corporate clients, including cartel litigation, merger control and abuse of dominance. Particular skill in follow-on damages litigation and private enforcement, as well as in compliance mandates. Boasts a particularly strong base of clients in the energy, transportation and manufacturing industries.

Strengths In praising the team's international cohesion, one client notes that "the team is very well joined up and works well together across the various offices."

Another client adds that the team "communicates fluently with the authorities," making cases "unproblematic."

Work highlights Acted for PayLife Bank as defendants on a private enforcement class action claim.

Assisted Sika with merger control proceedings related to the acquisition Bitbau Dörr.

Notable practitioners

Andreas Traugott is renowned for his competition litigation practice, with further expertise in domestic and international merger control and regulatory mandates. Clients note that the work he delivers is "of high quality," and that he is "certainly very talented." He recently represented Haushahn Aufzüge in merger control proceedings related to the acquisition of Salzburger Aufzugdienst.

About the Team (content provided by Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG)

Department profile not yet provided by Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG. Please see their firm profile.

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Barnert Egermann Illigasch - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Notable practice advising international and domestic clients on a full range of competition issues, with established expertise in merger control filings. Particularly strong in antitrust and cartel cases, frequently assisting with follow-on damages claims. Supports clients in investigations, regulatory issues and leniency applications, with additional expertise in competition litigation and enforcement. Works closely with well-known foreign law firms on international mandates.

Strengths Clients laud the firm as leaving a "very good impression" and describe the team as "very competent and well informed about Austrian law."

Work highlights Assisted Triton Partners with merger control filings in Austria relating to the client's acquisition of WernerCo.

Represented GlobalWafers in the merger clearance filing for the acquisition of SunEdison Semiconductor.

Notable practitioners

Isabella Hartung advises on a range of both contentious and non-contentious competition matters, including merger control, cartel cases and enforcement claims. Sources describe her as a "good competition lawyer" and clients highlight that she is "smart and responds quickly." Recent work includes assisting PORR with merger control proceedings related to their acquisition of the Hinteregger Group.

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DORDA - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 3

第三等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Reputable team, providing clients with expertise on antitrust and merger control issues on a national and European level. Notable expertise acting for clients in the transport, gaming and pharmaceutical industries, including recent client win PharmaSwiss. Assists with a range of mandates such as compliance and state aid. Experienced in Europe-wide investigations, distribution and pricing issues.

Strengths One client praises the firm for "really understanding what the business of the client is," as well as providing "pragmatic advice."

Another client says the the firm provides "high-quality service and it has been a pleasure for us to co-operate with them."

Work highlights Assisted SAZKA Group with merger control proceedings related to its acquisition of shares in Casinos Austria Group.

Advised Novartis on competition law matters including compliance with Articles 101 and 102 and other antitrust compliance mandates.

Notable practitioners

Clients praise Heinrich Kühnert for his "long-standing experience in all antitrust-related matters in Austria." He frequently advises pharmaceutical sector clients on investigations, cartel proceedings and merger clearance, as well as on compliance-related mandates. Recent work includes assisting ORPEA Groupe with merger control processes following a number of acquisitions in the Austrian healthcare market.

About the Team (content provided by DORDA)

In a legal environment affected by the ever-growing relevance of national and European competition law, DORDA provides advice to domestic and international clients on all aspects of this legal field. Our services range from the representation of our clients in merger control and anti-trust proceedings before Austrian and European authorities, the drafting and negotiation of customised agreements involving competition law issues (such as distribution and licensing agreements) to the development of anti-trust compliance programmes for our clients.

Our services include:

  • Merger notifications at national & EU level, including multi-jurisdictional coordination of filings
  • Cartel investigations and cases before national and EU competition authorities & courts
  • Distribution and contract related antitrust law
  • Strategic advice on antitrust compliance, e.g. pricing and rebate strategies
  • Legal assistance during inspections by competition authorities (“dawn raids“)
  • Antitrust litigation and private enforcement proceedings
  • Drafting and implementation of compliance programs

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Haslinger Nagele & Partner - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 4

第四等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Established team based in Linz offering expertise in private enforcement proceedings, abuse of dominance, cartel investigations and merger filings. Further represents both private and public clients in state aid and compliance matters. Clients range from federal bodies to international players in the telecoms and financial services sectors.

Notable practitioners

Martin Stempkowski advises on a broad range of matters including on merger control proceedings and internal compliance mandates. Clients describe him as a lawyer with "excellent expertise," in his field. Additionally assists with cartel investigations and proceedings before the cartel court. He also acts on state aid and public procurement matters.

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Taylor Wessing - Competition/European Law Department

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Band 4

第四等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Well-recognised firm offering clients an international network and expertise on multi-jurisdictional merger filings, particularly in Germany and CEE. Assists clients with distribution systems and vertical agreements. Particular sector expertise in retail, construction and food. Also well versed in competition litigation, especially in penalty procedure cases. Recently added significant clients in the paper and pulp production industry.

Strengths One client appreciates the tailored advice, stating: "They have a very good understanding of our business, they come up with what we need."

Work highlights Assisted Ankerbrot with merger control proceedings before the Austrian competition authorities related to the acquisition of a major share in Linauer & Wagner.

Advised Ferrero Österreich on matters relating to the clients vertical distribution system, in particular its bonus system for larger customers.

Notable practitioners

Clients praise Martin Eckel's expansive knowledge of competition law noting that he "knows every decision in Austria as well as at the EU level," and is "able to apply it and able to convey this to me in a way I will understand." He has particular skill in merger control proceedings and cartel investigations throughout the CEE region. Recent work includes advising Pernod Ricard Austria on competition compliance matters, as well as assisting with questions related to the client's distribution chain.

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Overview

AUSTRIA: An Introduction to Competition/European Law Contributed by bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH

While Austria has had antitrust legislation since 1951, its regime is generally considered to be 'younger' than most of the Western European counterparts. Indeed, the change from the post-war belief that cartels were often justifiable on industrial policy grounds to a modern competition law system was gradual. Since Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995, competition rules and their enforcement have been modernised, and the application of EU law in general plays an important role in Austria’s legal system.

It may be mentioned that the EU accession has also brought state aid law matters, which can be directly enforced by the European Commission. Additionally, it introduced significant changes in the area of public and utilities procurement procedures. While the EU law impact is arguably strongest in competition law, there is virtually no area in Austrian law which has not been affected, in one way or another, by the EU law and the four freedoms (free movement of goods, capital, services, and people) it advocates and protects.

Focusing on competition law in the narrow sense, since 2002, the Austrian (public) enforcement framework provides for three main players: The independent Federal Competition Authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde, FCA) is Austria’s prosecuting agency. Its main responsibilities are the investigation of restrictions of competition as well as the phase 1 review of mergers. Unlike most European competition authorities, in general, the FCA has limited decision-making power; all decisions on violation of the behavioural antitrust rules and on mergers (in phase 2 proceedings) are made by the Cartel Court (CC), a specialised division of the Vienna Court of Appeals. The FCA has some decision making power. It can enforce information requests itself (rather than only through proceedings before the CC) by issuing binding decisions and by imposing fines if such decisions are not followed. While the CC can be used for disputes by private parties, the applications for fines as well as applications for phase 2 reviews of mergers may only be submitted by the FCA and the Federal Antitrust Attorney (Bundeskartellanwalt, FAA). The FAA, which reports to the Minister of Justice, is charged with protecting the public interest in competition enforcement.

Given the rather low filing thresholds and the wide definition of what constitutes a merger potentially affecting the Austrian market, a lot of the cases dealt with by the FCA and the FAA are merger control-related. However, as was the case elsewhere, merger filing numbers took a serious hit in the 2008 financial crisis, and continue to be lower than the pre-crisis levels. However, the FCA has brought several proceedings against cartels based on leniency applications as well as against anti-competitive vertical practices (with horizontal elements such as hub-and-spoke), where it has conducted a great number of dawn-raids. The highest fine imposed so far was for EUR75.4 million in the Austrian elevators and escalators case.

While Austrian law provides for rather strict presumptions of dominance, the dominance cases have traditionally played a less prominent role in public enforcement practice. This is also in line with the situation at EU level, where merger control and cartel investigations clearly make up the lion’s share of the European Commission’s work. Dominance issues however, continue to be pleaded in litigation between private parties before the CC and the Austrian civil courts as well as arbitral tribunals (including private enforcement and damage claims). There are a number of interfaces between general competition law requirements and regulatory regimes imposed on certain industries such as energy and telecoms.

In addition to its case work, the FCA also has the power to conduct general market investigations. The main target of the FCA’s investigations so far have been the regulated industries. In particular, the FCA has examined the Austrian oil and gas market as well as the telecoms sector. Furthermore, the FCA also investigated the Austrian retail market. It may also be noted that the FCA continues to publish fuel prices in Austria.

In line with the European trend, Austria has recently also seen a rise in private damages claims, following an imposition of fines in a case relating to driving schools and, on a far bigger scale, after the CC’s decision in the elevators and escalators case. A further prominent case relates to the investigation into the payment card industry. Most practitioners expect that private damages litigation will continue to grow and the European trucks cartel is expected to further trigger private enforcement also in Austria.

In general, most practitioners expect the demand for competition law advice to continue growing. It is driven by competition law risks as well as the strengthening of general compliance with clients seeking increasingly sophisticated solutions to difficult and new questions.

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Schoenherr

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients laud Hanno Wollmann as "a first-class lawyer, who knows all the facets of our business model in detail, thinks strategically and is also available in person for spontaneous consultations." He offers market leading advice on cartel cases and complex merger control proceedings, as evidenced in recent work assisting PremiQaMed and UNIQA with merger control proceedings concerning the acquisition of 75% of the shares in a private hospital in Vienna. He has further expertise in competition-related litigation and investigations, as well as advising on state aid mandates.

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Band 1

Astrid Ablasser-Neuhuber

bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH

From the Chambers Europe guide

According to clients, Astrid Ablasser-Neuhuber maintains "accuracy in every detail, while not losing the overall perspective," while also being able to "react in a smart and effective way" to developments. She runs a notable competition law practice, assisting clients with a range of matters including antitrust and merger control cases before both the European and Austrian competition authorities, exemplified in recent work representing Axel Springer in merger control proceedings in Austria following a number of acquisitions.

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Band 1

Wolf Theiss

From the Chambers Europe guide

Günter Bauer is a "distinguished expert," who "has proven to be an excellent strategist when tackling various legal challenges." He advises on the full spectrum of competition mandates, with particular strength on merger clearance matters. Further expertise includes supply agreements, state aid laws and cartel investigations.

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Band 1

Barnert Egermann Illigasch

From the Chambers Europe guide

Isabella Hartung advises on a range of both contentious and non-contentious competition matters, including merger control, cartel cases and enforcement claims. Sources describe her as a "good competition lawyer" and clients highlight that she is "smart and responds quickly." Recent work includes assisting PORR with merger control proceedings related to their acquisition of the Hinteregger Group.

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Band 1

BINDER GRÖSSWANG Rechtsanwälte GmbH

From the Chambers Europe guide

Raoul Hoffer is described as a "very solid and strategic competition lawyer." He is an expert practitioner in a range of competition law matters including merger control, abuse of dominance and private enforcement proceedings. He recently advised a number of significant real estate companies in Austria and the City of Vienna on the first private enforcement suit related to the escalator and elevator cartel before the Austrian Commercial Court.

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Band 1

Bernhard Kofler-Senoner

CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients describe Bernhard Kofler-Senoner as "very smart, very flexible and precise." He is renowned for his activity on cross-border merger control proceedings, exemplified in recent work representing Austria Asphalt in merger control matters relating to a joint venture between the client and Teerag-Asdag. He also assists clients with dawn raids.

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Band 1

Reidlinger Schatzmann Attorneys-at-Law

From the Chambers Europe guide

Axel Reidlinger, founding partner of Reidlinger Schatzmann Attorneys-at-Law, offers comprehensive expertise of domestic and EU competition law. He advises clients on the full spectrum of competition mandates, including merger control and private enforcement cases. Clients particularly praise his strength for cartel and abuse of dominance mandates.

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Band 1

Dieter Thalhammer

Eisenberger & Herzog

From the Chambers Europe guide

Head of practice Dieter Thalhammer offers a broad range of expertise covering European and domestic competition law, particularly in merger control, cartels, abuse of dominance cases and follow-on damages claims. Clients describe him as "very experienced and highly qualified," adding that he has "all the assets I would seek for in competition law." He acted for ProSieben on its acquisition of ATV, the Austrian private television station, including advising on pre-notification talks and merger control proceedings.

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Band 1

Franz Urlesberger

Schoenherr

From the Chambers Europe guide

Franz Urlesberger recently advised the Central European Gas Hub on comprehensive merger control procedures relating to the acquisition of the client's gas exchange business by Powernext. On top of expertise in merger control, he has substantial experience in antitrust compliance programmes and sector specific knowledge in the energy, oil and transport industries. He also acts for clients on antitrust investigations and dawn raids.

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Band 2

Taylor Wessing

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Martin Eckel's expansive knowledge of competition law noting that he "knows every decision in Austria as well as at the EU level," and is "able to apply it and able to convey this to me in a way I will understand." He has particular skill in merger control proceedings and cartel investigations throughout the CEE region. Recent work includes advising Pernod Ricard Austria on competition compliance matters, as well as assisting with questions related to the client's distribution chain.

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Band 2

bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH

From the Chambers Europe guide

Florian Neumayr has substantial experience operating in the competition field, focusing on cartel and merger control processes. He is particularly lauded for his expertise in competition litigation, with a notable presence in private enforcement claims. Clients describe him as a lawyer who fulfils his job "outstandingly," as well as being an "extremely pleasant" and "reliable" person to work with. He recently assisted A1 Telekom Austria with regulatory and competition issues.

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Band 2

Baker McKenzie - Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG

From the Chambers Europe guide

Andreas Traugott is renowned for his competition litigation practice, with further expertise in domestic and international merger control and regulatory mandates. Clients note that the work he delivers is "of high quality," and that he is "certainly very talented." He recently represented Haushahn Aufzüge in merger control proceedings related to the acquisition of Salzburger Aufzugdienst.

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Band 2

Andreas Zellhofer

Eisenberger & Herzog

From the Chambers Europe guide

Andreas Zellhofer is "always available," with "quick response times," as well as being "really to the point." He has particular strength in abuse of dominance cases, but also acts on state aid, cartel law proceedings and distribution law matters.

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Band 3

Heinrich Kühnert

DORDA

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Heinrich Kühnert for his "long-standing experience in all antitrust-related matters in Austria."  He frequently advises pharmaceutical sector clients on investigations, cartel proceedings and merger clearance, as well as on compliance-related mandates. Recent work includes assisting ORPEA Groupe with merger control processes following a number of acquisitions in the Austrian healthcare market.

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Band 3

Starlinger Mayer Rechtsanwälte GmbH

From the Chambers Europe guide

Christian Mayer of Starlinger Mayer Rechtsanwälte GmbH is "very helpful and co-operative," and clients also appreciate that he is able to "go beyond the legal questions and find appropriate paths to solutions." He recently advised Kurier Zeitungsverlag und Druckerei on merger control and other competition law matters related to the acquisition of Schau-TV. He also acts on antitrust matters and has a particularly strong reputation for his work in the media, energy and tourism sectors.

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Band 3

PETER THYRI

From the Chambers Europe guide

Peter Thyri of PETER THYRI advises clients on a range of domestic and European competition law, including representing them before the EC and domestic courts in cartel proceedings. He remains a well-known name in the competition law field, and further acts on mandates related to state aid, distribution agreements and compliance training.

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Band 4

Wolf Theiss

From the Chambers Europe guide

Clients praise Jochen Anweiler for being "a fantastic lawyer, very knowledgeable and pragmatic," while also commending his range of experience. He offers a wealth of expertise in competition law, covering merger control, abuse of dominance cases and compliance matters, servicing clients from a broad range of industries including technology and construction.

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Band 4

BINDER GRÖSSWANG Rechtsanwälte GmbH

From the Chambers Europe guide

Christine Dietz is well respected for her compliance and state aid work, as well as her significant activity in merger control proceedings. She recently advised Puratos on competition law matters related to its acquisition of Diamant.

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Band 4

Preslmayr

From the Chambers Europe guide

Dieter Hauck of Preslmayr is widely respected for his skills as a litigator in competition-related disputes. Additionally he provides substantial expertise on merger control and compliance matters and is knowledgeable in cartel procedures including investigations and leniency applications.

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Band 4

Saxinger, Chalupsky & Partners (SCWP Schindhelm)

From the Chambers Europe guide

Christina Hummer of Saxinger, Chalupsky & Partners (SCWP Schindhelm) has considerable expertise advising clients on antitrust proceedings before the EC, as well as national competition authorities. She additionally acts for a range of domestic and international clients on merger filings and price maintenance allegations, as well as representing them in investigations and dawn raids. Her recent work includes assisting Pierer Industrie with a number of merger control proceedings related to the acquisition of all shares in SHW Group, an automobile supplier.

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Band 4

Hans Kristoferitsch

CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati

From the Chambers Europe guide

Hans Kristoferitsch is described by sources as "very knowledgeable and great to work with." He recently represented Austrian Power Grid and Vorarlberger Übertragungsnetz in pricing and competition law proceedings before the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators board of appeal. He is renowned for his skill in EU law and litigation, with further expertise in state aid, procurement and cartel cases.

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Band 4

Law Office Dr Georg Legat

From the Chambers Europe guide

Georg Legat of Law Office Dr Georg Legat is lauded for being a vastly experienced competition lawyer. He is renowned for his activity on cartel cases and procurement matters, and his clients include healthcare and pharmaceutical organisations.

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Band 4

Florian Schuhmacher

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach

From the Chambers Europe guide

Florian Schuhmacher of DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach is a well-recognised lawyer in the field of competition law, with a broad practice. He has particular prowess in advising European and domestic clients on antitrust and merger control mandates. He recently advised Blue Ocean Entertainment on merger control filings regarding its acquisition of Pabel-Moewig Verlag.

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Band 4

Martin Stempkowski

Haslinger Nagele & Partner

From the Chambers Europe guide

Martin Stempkowski advises on a broad range of matters including on merger control proceedings and internal compliance mandates. Clients describe him as a lawyer with "excellent expertise," in his field. Additionally assists with cartel investigations and proceedings before the cartel court. He also acts on state aid and public procurement matters.

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Up and Coming

Eisenberger & Herzog

From the Chambers Europe guide

Judith Feldner "is fantastic," according to sources, who add that "she is extremely skilled, very open and easy-going and she has exceptionally good relationships with clients." She acts on a range of mandates, including merger control proceedings, cartel cases and damages claims. Recent work includes assisting the Greenbrier Companies with the establishment of a joint venture between themselves and Astra Rail, including advice on merger control proceedings before the Austrian FCA.

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Up and Coming

CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati

From the Chambers Europe guide

Michael Mayer has a broad competition law practice, with expertise in merger control proceedings, abuse of dominant position and compliance cases, as well as antitrust and cartel cases. Clients describe him as a "very knowledgeable and dynamic" lawyer to work with.

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Up and Coming

CMS

From the Chambers Europe guide

Dieter Zandler of CMS acts on a wide range of competition related mandates, including merger control, abuse of dominance and cartel cases. He also advises both domestic and international clients on compliance issues with EU and national legislation.

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