Germany: Federal Cartel Office bans food retail giant EDEKA from squeezing suppliers, EDEKA goes to court

The German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt, or BKartA) has issued a decision stating that attempts by Germany’s largest supermarket, EDEKA, to force suppliers to grant it so-called ‘wedding rebates’, in the form of additional payments and benefits, following its acquisition of Plus in 2009 were abusive and unlawful.

After a five-year investigation, BKartA’s decision states that EDEKA ‘violated’ Germany’s Anzapfverbot law, a specific law that aims to protect suppliers against buyer power and prohibits a retailer from requiring suppliers to grant it certain benefits ‘without any objective justification’. EDEKA has challenged this ruling and filed a complaint to the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht, or OLG Düsseldorf).

Under the German Act against Restraints of Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, or GWB), dominant undertakings may not use their market position to require undertakings to grant them advantages or benefits without any objective justification (known as the prohibition of ‘tapping’, or ‘Anzapfverbot’). This ban also applies to non-dominant undertakings on which other undertakings ‘depend in such a way that reasonable possibilities of resorting to other undertakings do not exist’ (so-called ‘relative market power’)…

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