Hogan Lovells successfully acts for German antitrust regulator in €1.1bn damages claim

Hogan Lovells has successfully acted for the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) in a €1.1bn (£960m) liability charges claim brought by Danish headset manufacturer GN Store Nord.

The Hogan Lovells team in Germany, led by competition partner Marc Schweda, alongside corporate partner Andreas H Meyer and litigation partner Detlef Hass, was first instructed in 2011 to defend the FCO, Germany’s antitrust regulator, after it had prohibited the planned sale of GN Store Nord’s hearing-aid unit ReSound to Sonova Holding.

GN Store Nord had sued the FCO to claim damages it said were incurred by the regulator’s decision to veto the sale of its ReSound unit.

The company got the veto of the sale of ReSound overturned in Germany’s highest court in 2010. The Cartel Office said in 2007 that the purchase of ReSound would harm competition because Sonova, Danish competitor William Demant and Germany’s Siemens controlled about 80 per cent of the German market.

This decision was ultimately overruled by the Federal Supreme Court, which in turn led to the damages claim against the FCO for allegedly lost sales profits.

This case is the first in Germany to try to hold the agency responsible for wrongfully blocking a transaction.