A Latham team has assisted a Chinese robotics manufacturer to successfully navigate two anti-trust investigations in Germany and Austria. Following a complaint against the client from two of its distributors in regard to resale price maintenance, both the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) and the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (BWB) opened an investigation with the company potentially facing fines of up to €15 million.
A cross-border Latham team working across China and multiple offices in Germany advised the client on both investigations, immediately filing a leniency application to the FCO in order to obtain credit for full cooperation in the investigation and have the FCO waive or reduce the potential fines. To support the leniency application the Latham team undertook a thorough investigation of the case, including conducting a risk-screening document review and interviews with key client personnel.
Despite the difficulties of the global pandemic, less than 10 months on from the initial application, in July 2020 the FCO decided to drop the investigation. The BWB has also recently announced its decision not to pursue the investigation further without any fines. These successes are a rare example of a Chinese company that has successfully persuaded a European regulator to drop an investigation of this nature.
The client is a world-leading auto cleaning robots supplier, headquartered in Eastern China, that has developed a range of smart home robotics. The Latham team was led by Beijing partner Hui Xu and Dusseldorf partner Michael Esser with associates Judith Jacop and Fabienne Rotering. Munich partner Anne Kleffman also advised on the matter with associate Kristina Steckermeier.