Compass Lexecon Advises Schibsted in First Merger Appeal in Norway

Norwegian Appeal Court rules in favour of international media group Schibsted following a Phase 2 investigation of its digital platform merger.

In December 2019, online classified advertising platform Finn (owned by Schibsted), acquired Nettbil, an online auction platform that allows car dealers to bid for private sellers’ used cars.

Following a lengthy Phase 2 merger investigation, in November 2020, the Norwegian Competition Authority (“NCA”) ordered Schibsted to unwind the Finn / Nettbil merger. The NCA had concluded that the merger would lead to a significant lessening of competition in the market of online platforms for buying and selling used cars. The authority posited two theories of harm: unilateral effects and a novel “killer acquisition” theory. The NCA’s prohibition decision was upheld by the Norwegian Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) in June 2021.

Compass Lexecon was brought in to provide economic advice to Schibsted during its appeal of the CAT’s judgement to the Gulating Court of Appeal.

Our team prepared an expert report focusing on the competitive effects of the merger and our expert, Dr. Miguel de la Mano, provided testimony before the appeal court. We argued that the NCA had failed to properly define the relevant product market and assess closeness of competition between Finn and Nettbil, and that the CAT’s analysis of unilateral effects was flawed because it did not properly take into account indirect network effects and the competitive constraint from Facebook Marketplace.

On 24 March 2022, the court ruled unanimously in favour of Schibsted, thus reversing the NCA’s prohibition decision and the CAT’s judgement. The court cited Compass Lexecon’s analysis and Dr. de la Mano’s testimony on multiple occasions.

The Compass Lexecon team comprised Miguel de la Mano and Sergey Khodjamirian. The team worked closely with Norwegian law firm Wiersholm (Håkon Størdal, Stephan Jervell and Edvard Hamer Rojahn) and Schibsted’s in-house competition law team (Christoffer Nyegaard Mollestad and Elin Moen).

Compass Lexecon’s Nordic team has successfully advised Nordic clients in multiple important matters, both before the Nordic national competition authorities and the European Commission. Compass Lexecon brings a truly unique proposition to law firms and clients in Scandinavia, offering a local presence while leveraging the extensive experience and capabilities of the wider European competition practice. The Nordic team comprises 25 economists and includes two ex-chief economists from Nordic competition authorities.