FINAL DECISION OF SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE COURT IN LUKOIL BALTIJA CASE
The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (hereinafter – Court) upheld the Lithuanian Competition Council’s decision of December 12, 2014 whereby UAB AMIC Lietuva (former UAB Lukoil Baltija) received a fine of EUR 3 297 700.
During the investigation the Council found that in 2003 UAB Lukoil Baltija signed a joint venture agreement with UAB Baltic Petroleum and acquired control over 15 fuel stations. By doing so UAB Lukoil Baltija implemented a concentration without obtaining the Council’s permission and thus infringed the Law on Competition.
UAB Lukoil Baltija appealed the Council’s decision to Vilnius Regional Administrative Court which upheld the Council’s decision. UAB Lukoil Baltija appealed this judgement to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania.
According to UAB Lukoil Baltija, in 2001 it obtained the Council’s permission to implement the concentration thus no permission was needed to acquire control over fuel stations in 2003. The Court noted that the Council examines and gives permission to the concentration described in the notification of concentration. It was also stated that the Council’s permission of 2001 did not include the acquisition of control over fuel stations, thus the Company needed to obtain permission for a new concentration.
In addition, the Court upheld the Council’s conclusion that the acquisition of control over 15 fuel stations constitutes one concentration since UAB Lukoil Baltija acquired control according to the joint venture agreement signed in 2003 between the same parties.
In UAB Lukoil Baltija opinion, despite the fact that the company acquired control over 15 fuel stations, in order to determine whether merger notification thresholds are exceeded, the income of fuel stations operating in different relevant markets cannot be added together. The Court noted that the intended concentration must be notified to the Council if the combined aggregate income of undertakings concerned exceeds the threshold set in the Law on Competition and the duty of such notification shall not be related to a specific (one) relevant market. As a result, the Council correctly calculated the gross income of the group of 15 fuel stations.
UAB AMIC Lietuva will have to pay the fine of almost EUR 3,3 million and interest which amount to EUR 531 579 as of today.
The ruling of the Court is final and not subject to appeal.