Private Equity Sponsor Fined for Cartel Activity of Portfolio Company

10 April 2014
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Key takeaways:

  • The European Commission recently fined a private equity sponsor for antitrust violations by a former portfolio company despite no evidence it participated in or even was aware of the anticompetitive conduct, because it exercised “decisive influence” over the portfolio company.
  • The decision is consistent with EU case law on parental liability, which treats private equity firms and other financial investors no differently in imputing the conduct of subsidiaries to their parents.
  • This is an important reminder that financial investors should do careful pre-transaction antitrust due diligence and ensure robust antitrust compliance procedures are in place at both the sponsor and the portfolio company levels.