December Antitrust Bulletin

December 20, 2011

Brazil Modernizes its Antitrust System with New Law

On Nov. 30, 2011, Brazil’s new antitrust law (available only in Portuguese) was formally enacted following more than seven years of discussions and consultations. The new law — which will supersede Brazil’s existing antitrust law when it becomes effective on May 29, 2012 — represents a significant and comprehensive change in the institutional and procedural structure of competition policy in Brazil. Among other changes, the new law will eliminate overlaps among the three antitrust agencies, implement a premerger review regime (in contrast to the current postmerger review) and enhance the criminal penalties for cartel conduct. Under the new law, the Council for Economic Defence (CADE) will conduct all antitrust investigations.

CEO Fined $500,000 for Violation of HSR Rules

On Dec. 16, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint for civil penalties against Brian L. Roberts, the CEO of Comcast Corporation, alleging that he violated the notice and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act when he acquired additional Comcast voting securities. The HSR Act requires certain persons to file notifications and observe a waiting period before consummating certain acquisitions of voting securities or assets in order to provide the federal antitrust agencies with an opportunity to review proposed transactions. Violations of the HSR Act can result in penalties of up to $16,000 a day for each day a party is in violation. Roberts has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty to settle the charges against him. The case is a reminder of the importance of ensuring compliance with the HSR Act when acquiring voting securities or assets.

Meat Industry Criticizes USDA’s Antitrust Rule Regulating Industry

On Dec. 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published the final version of a new antitrust rule implementing the 2008 Farm Bill provisions. The rule is significantly modified from the proposed rule published June 22, 2010, which was the subject of heated debate for more than a year. Among other provisions, the rule requires that meat companies give farmers the right to opt out of mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts.

EC Offers Guidance on Competition Law Compliance

On Nov. 23, 2011, the European Commission issued Compliance Matters, a booklet offering guidance on the essential principles of EU competition laws. Additional information is available in our December 2011 EU/UK Competition Law Newsletter.

For more information, please contact the lawyers in the Antitrust & Trade Regulation Department at McGuireWoods.