Norway fines the VY Group 7.5 million

The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) fines the VY Group 7.5 million NOK for providing incorrect information in a merger filing.

– The obligation to give correct and complete information to the Authority is essential in order for the Authority to be able to enforce the Competition Act, says Deputy Director Kjersti Bruaas at the NCA’s Department for Finance and Communication.

According to the Competition Act, the NCA may impose fines on undertakings which provide incorrect or incomplete information to the NCA.

Incorrect or incomplete information in notification
The Vy Group and Fjord1 submitted a notification to the NCA on 3 March 2019 regarding the creation of a joint venture in the tourism industry and the acquisition of control of the tour operator Fjord Tours. In the notification, the VY Group stated that it could not get in a position to refuse competitors of Fjord Tours access to the Flåm Railway.

During its investigation of the notified transaction, the Authority was made aware that the VY Group had given notice that it would terminate a contract regulating the Flåm Railway ticket sales. This information was relevant for the Authority’s assessment of whether the VY Group could get in a position to control ticket sales to the Flåm Railway.

– The Authority takes breaches of the obligation to provide correct and complete information seriously. The information companies provide to the Authority when notifying transactions constitutes the starting point for our investigations. The handling of merger cases is subject to short statutory deadlines, and therefore it is of great importance that the Authority can trust the information submitted in merger filings, says Bruaas.

When incorrect or incomplete information is provided, there is a risk that aspects of the case will be overlooked or not investigated further.

– In a worst-case scenario this could prevent the Authority from prohibiting a merger that is harmful to competition, continues Bruaas.

The NCA cleared the notified transaction on 5 April 2019. The incorrect or incomplete information in the notification was relevant for the Authority’s assessment, but did not have a decisive impact on the outcome of the case.

Facts:

  • On 3 March 2019, the Norwegian Competition Authority received a merger notification from the Vy Group and Fjord 1 ASA regarding the creation of the joint venture NSB Fjord 1 Reiseliv AS and the acquisition of control of Fjord Tours AS.
  • On 2 April 2019, the Norwegian Competition Authority was made aware that the VY Group had given notice that it would terminate a contract regulating the Flåm Railway ticket sales.
  • According to Section 29 of the Competition Act and Section 1 of the regulation on the notification of mergers, an undertaking can be fined if the undertaking or someone acting on its behalf, intentionally or negligently, provides incorrect or incomplete information to the Authority.
  • The Authority may impose a fine of up to 1 percent of the undertaking’s turnover for this type of infringements.
  • The Vy Group can appeal the Authority’s decision before the Competition Tribunal within six months upon receipt of the decision.
Kjersti M. Bruaas, Deputy Director Kjersti Bruaas at the NCA’s Department for Finance and Communication.