Wednesday, 08 July 2015 08:29

Decision 612/2015

Ι. Joint examination of the complaints lodged by a) the "Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Athens and Suburbs" against the company "PAPASTRATOS CMC SA", b) “Association of Tobacco Wholesale Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki”, alias “Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki”, against the same company as above, c) “Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Athens and Suburbs” against the companies "PAPASTRATOS CMC SA", “BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.”, “KARELIA TOBACCO COMPANY INC.”, “ATHANASSIOU TRADING COMPANY S.A.” and “IMPERIAL TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.” and d) by the “Association of Tobacco Wholesale Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki”, alias “Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki” et al, against the companies “ATHANASSIOU TRADING COMPANY S.A.”, “IMPERIAL TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.” and “BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.” for alleged infringements of Articles 1 and 2 of L. 3959/2011, and/or Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.

ΙΙ. Commitments proposed by the companies “BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.”, “KARELIA TOBACCO COMPANY INC.”, “ATHANASSIOU TRADING COMPANY S.A.”  and “IMPERIAL TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.”, in the context of the joint examination of the above complaints, intended to allay concerns about possible infringements of Articles 1 of L. 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU, in view of the vertical restrictions included in the terms of the recently-concluded distribution agreements between the aforementioned companies and new distributors, which concern the geographical area in which or the customers to which the distributor is allowed to sell the contractual products as well as the exchange of information with the distributor.

Decision 612/2015
File (PDF) Decision 612/2015
Date of Publication of Decision July 8th, 2015
Issue Number of Government Bulletin
Relevant Market Manufactured tobacco products
Subject of the Decision Concerted practices, Abuse of a dominant position
Legal Framework Article 25 par. 6 L. 3959/2011
Operative part of the Decision Acceptance of commitments
Complainant(s)

1. Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Athens and Suburbs

2. Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki

Respondent(s)

1. BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.
2. KARELIA TOBACCO COMPANY INC.
3. ATHANASSIOU TRADING COMPANY S.A.
4. IMPERIAL TOBACCO HELLAS S.A.

Summary of Decision

The HCC’s investigation was initiated following complaints lodged by the Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Athens and Suburbs, Association of Tobacco Outlet Operators of Thessaloniki and individual tobacco distributors against the tobacco manufacturers PAPASTRATOS, BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO HELLAS, KARELIA TOBACCO COMPANY, ATHANASSIOU and IMPERIAL TOBACCO HELLAS. The subject matter of the complaint involves the restructuring of the above tobacco producers’ distribution network in Attica, Thessaloniki and Achaia the consequent discontinuation of their cooperation with the majority of the complaining associations’ members, which were until then distributors of their products at the wholesale level.

By its unanimous Decision, the Plenary of the Competition Commission (HCC) accepted, pursuant to Article 25 par. 6 of L. 3959/2011, the commitments proposed by the above companies so as to meet the competition concerns expressed to them by the HCC concerning possible infringements in the sale markets for manufactured tobacco products. In particular, the tobacco manufacturers agreed to amend or delete, as appropriate, specific contractual terms in their new distribution agreements, so as to allay competition concerns that such contracts may be deemed to restrict excessively sales made by their distributors and/or to facilitate access of manufacturers to sensitive business information of their competitors, thereby possibly infringing Articles 1 of the Greek Competition Act and 101 TFEU. In case of non-compliance, the HCC may impose fines on the tobacco manufacturers concerned.

By the same decision, the HCC rejected all remaining aspects of the complaints regarding alleged infringements by the tobacco producers of Articles 1 and 2 of L. 3959/2011 and 101 and 102 TFEU (notably, allegations regarding concerted practices and/or abuse of dominance) in the context of their distribution network restructuring, finding that they could not be substantiated.

Judicial Means No appeal
Decisions by the Court of Appeal of Athens (Administrative Division) DEA 3957/2017
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