We have acted for many well-known, blue-chip, multinational corporate groups in competition law matters and have assisted them as they navigate the evolving and increasingly complex global and cross-border regulatory, compliance and government enforcement environment.
The team has gained substantial experience in various industry sectors, including oil, radio and newsprint. In these contexts, the team has interacted with regulatory bodies at both the Irish and European levels. LK Shields is on the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection’s panel of lawyers, which is a testament to the regard in which our competition practice is held.
As a first step, we acquire a deep understanding of our clients’ business and strategy and our ability to quickly get to grips with new businesses is a key strength. We pride ourselves on a high degree of inter-connectivity between our teams, enabling us to provide a full service and advise clients on managing competition law risk wherever it may arise. Our expertise covers merger activity, relationships with third parties, compliance, investigations, and regulatory enforcement.
The LK Shields EU, Competition and Regulated Markets Team has extensive experience of assisting clients across jurisdictions, across industry sectors, and across regulatory fronts. Driven by the needs of our clients, we have also developed close working relationships with highly recommended law firms in other countries, allowing us to coordinate multi-jurisdictional investigations and compliance matters on behalf of our clients.
Head of Practice, Marco Hickey has written extensively in the area of EU, Competition and Regulated Markets and is the author of "Merger Control" which was published by the Thomson Reuters group in May, 2013. This book is the first book exclusively devoted to the competition law implications of mergers and acquisitions in Ireland.
LK Shields was the only firm of solicitors in Ireland to make submissions to the Commission in the context of the White Paper of 2014 on reform of the EU Merger Control Regulation to include the regulation of minority interests.
- Acting for RASA in relation to a complaint against Ireland and Aer Lingus alleging that Aer Lingus was in receipt of State aid in regard to certain measures relating to the pension arrangements of employees of Aer Lingus contrary to Article 107(1) and 108(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). It was alleged that the contested measures were being granted in the context of the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG. The above involved very detailed, complex and novel arguments regarding the scope of the definition of State aid for the purposes of Article 107(1) of the TFEU that to date have not been the subject of reported decisions of the Commission or the European Courts.
- The firm is advising Trinity Mirror plc, the largest publisher of national and local newspapers in the UK, in its acquisition of certain assets of Northern & Shell. This was the only Phase 2 merger review carried out by the CCPC in 2018. The case involves examining various markets within multiple media sectors. The transaction, being a media merger, involves notification to both the CCPC and the Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
- The firm advised SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc., a leading global provider of software products and software enabled services to the financial services sector, in its significant global acquisition of certain assets of DST Systems, Inc, a major provider of technology-based information processing and servicing solutions. The case involved notification of the transaction to the CCPC. The notification included detailed submissions on the appropriate product and geographic market definition in relation to markets for which no definitive approach had previously been adopted by the CCPC or the Irish courts. The transaction was approved by the CCPC in Phase 1.
- Advised the seller, Topaz Investments Limited, on the competition law aspects of the sale of Topaz Energy Group Limited, Resource Property Investment Fund plc and Esso Ireland Limited to Alimentation Couche-Tard of Canada. This was one of the largest transactions in recent years in Ireland. Due to the turnover involved and the cross-border nature of the transaction, clearance from the EU Commission was required under the EU Merger Control Regulation (Case M.7899).
- Advised Kendrick Investments on the competition aspects of the acquisition of Topaz, Ireland’s largest fuel and convenience brand. The transaction was notified to, and cleared by, the EU Commission under the EU Merger Control Regulation (Case M.7183). This transaction is one of the largest transactions to take place in Ireland in recent years.
- Acted for Communicorp Group Limited in the acquisition of Today FM, FM104 and Highland Radio. This transaction was innovative as it was the only ever merger clearance under Irish law to feature an up-front divestiture where the buyer for the business being divested was put in place prior to completion.
- Advised the French multinational Veolia SA, on the sale of its Irish operations to Greenstar. The transaction involved a merger of two of the largest players in the commercial and industrial waste sector in Ireland. The merger was cleared unconditionally after a Phase 2 review (Case M/09/024).
- Advised News Corporation on the Irish competition law aspects of its US$5.3 billion acquisition of Dow Jones (the target business included the Wall Street Journal). The transaction was cleared following a Phase 1 review (Case M/07/048).
- Advised the French multinational Egis Group in the acquisition of certain Irish assets from a subsidiary of NTR, the international renewable energy group. This transaction involved the making of a joint jurisdictional submission to the EU Commission in the context of the EU Merger Regulation. The submissions were accepted by the EU Commission.
- The firm was involved in an innovative move in Irish competition law circles when it acted for the plaintiffs Leanort Ltd, Hytherm (Ireland) Ltd and Hytherm Ltd in the first ever case before the Irish Courts in which an interlocutory injunction was granted to prohibit a breach of European competition law rules.
- The firm acted for the management team of Elverys Sports which was in examinership and the competition issues played a significant part in securing the business which was sold following a competitive bid process, which included a well-publicised bid from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Group.
- Acted for Millstreet Equestrian Services in a complaint against Show Jumping Ireland alleging infringement of EU and Irish competition law. The resulting investigation by Irish authorities was closed following material amendments to the Rules of Show Jumping Ireland.
- LK Shields Solicitors is acting for national radio station Newstalk in two complaints against state broadcaster RTÉ concerning a breach of State Aid rules and an abuse of dominance before the European Commission and Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, respectively.
- Marco and the team advised Baycliffe Limited, an investment vehicle, in relation to the joint acquisition of Blue Ocean Associates, a British oil trader with a turnover of more than €5.1 billion, along with Trafigura Beheer BV the Dutch multinational commodity trading company. The concentration was notified to, and cleared by, the EU Commission under the EU Merger Regulation (Case M.6617).
- Advising a major Irish company in relation to the State aid aspects of a proposed Government measure.
- Advising Bemis Company Inc., on the Irish competition law and EU State aid law aspects of its acquisition of the medical device packaging operations of SteriPack Group. This involved advising on the impact on the State funding received by Steripack of the recent EU State Aid Regional Aid Guidelines.
- Advising an individual regarding his complaint to the European Commission in respect of State aid being granted and proposed to be granted by Ireland through the operation of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
- Advising All Technology Ireland Limited on the State aid aspects of its Targeted Project Agreement with University College Dublin.