The aim of the protection of market competition is primarily to create benefits for consumers and equal conditions for all entrepreneurs on the market, who, acting in accordance with the existing rules and competing on the market with the quality, price and innovation of their products and services, contribute to the overall development of the economy.

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Final Trustee’s Report: GRAND AUTOMOTIVE LLP and RENAULT/NISSAN comply with the commitments

The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) accepted the second, final report drafted by BDO Croatia d.o.o – the trustee monitoring the implementation of the remedies under the decision on conditionally approved concentration between the undertakings Grand Automotive LLP and Renault/Nissan of 9 August 2022.

Based on the above-mentioned decision, with the view to eliminating the negative effects on competition, the CCA conditionally approved the concentration between Grand Automotive LLP and Renault/Nissan, accepted the proposed measures and had the appointed trustee monitor the implementation of the commitments of the parties to the concentration and other members of the distribution network – authorised and independent repairers, to ensure the compliance with the agreed commitments.

The behavioural remedies concerned were primarily aimed at permanent and a relatively fast elimination of the likely negative effects on competition in the provision of repair services for motor vehicles.

Namely, in its assessment of the concentration concerned, the CCA pointed out that this concentration could produce adverse effects on competition, particularly on independent repairers, and given the specific nature of the industry concerned where authorised importers and distributors significantly influence the ability of independent repairers to compete, this was the issue particularly taken into account by the trustee.

During the monitoring period the trustee’s job was to assess the implementation of the accepted measures within the set deadlines under the CCA decision in the duration of the conditionally approved concentration between Grand Automotive LLP and Renault/Nissan.

Concretely, the trustee monitored whether a particular measure could be implemented within the set deadline and produce expected effect, and whether this new situation in the provision of repair services for motor vehicles would be sustainable after the measures concerned have been implemented. At the same time, it was necessary to check whether the implementation of the measures at issue would harm competition.

The monitoring of the implementation of the measures concerned was reported by the trustee in its initial, first and second report where it stated that the said remedies were complied with in the period concerned and added its own recommendations regarding the implementation of the remedies. Within the duration of the concentration, it also monitored the behaviour of the participants of the concentration relating to the measures concerned and reported about it in the sense of the CCA decision.

The trustee took into account all relevant factors crucial for the measures at hand, always bearing in mind the situation in the motor vehicles repair market, the competition in the market, as well as the size and power not only of the concentration participants but of all competitors in the market, especially authorized and independent repairers.

During the implementation of this procedure, one of the major issues faced by independent repairers has proven to be access to special tools, technical data necessary for vehicle servicing, and to a lesser extent, to original spare parts. Furthermore, concerning the end consumer, one significant measure was the implementation of a notice introduced in vehicle booklets, informing the consumers that repairs of non-warranty parts did not have to be performed at an authorized repair shop to maintain the warranty.

According to trustee’s opinion, the most significant positive effect achieved through the implementation of the remedies was in terms of ensuring unrestricted competition between independent repairers.

A positive effect on competition could be expected since all manufacturers have offered independent repairers shorter and less expensive access to data.

In this manner, according to the findings and opinion of the trustee, and in accordance with the decision of the CCA, any legal and actual barriers to access the tools and technical data have been removed not only for independent repairers but for any third party as well.

Regarding other proposed, accepted, and fulfilled measures, the trustee emphasised that it was precisely through the synergy of all accepted measures that a multiplication of positive effects on competition has been achieved, thereby improving the position of independent repairers relative the authorised repairers.

In relation to the operating system programs applied by the distributors, the changes therein clearly defined the position of authorized repairers as well as importers in the relevant market. All rights and powers of users on the side of importers as well as on the side of repairers and connected and unconnected undertakings have been determined. By running the checks in the operating system over a longer period of one year, it was found that the concentration participants not only fulfilled the remedies in question but also adhered to it for an extended period, adopting it as their regular operating process.

In addition to the above, it is necessary to highlight that successful additional training of the staff has been conducted in line with the new operation model, thereby raising awareness about individual rights and obligations at all hierarchical levels of the business entities, ensuring more effective preservation of the rights of all competitors in the market. The trustee believed that the planned further training of their own staff, the members of the authorized network, as well as third parties in terms of technical knowledge, demonstrated that concentration participants have been adopting a new pattern operation that would have a lasting positive effect on competition.

Through the implementation of the said remedies, the trustee concluded that the processes covered by the remedies have been producing efficiencies, and the implementation of the remedies has increased data accessibility to all interested parties (authorized repairers, independent repairers, third parties), internal IT processes have been improved, and monitored participants have adapted to the market and accepted a more open approach.

The trustee’s conclusion was that the remedies imposed by the CCA were appropriately selected and implemented, and they have helped the monitored party in the elimination of possible negative effects of the concentration on competition in the sales and servicing of motor vehicles. The compliance with the commitments has helped all competitors to access key infrastructure or technology and necessary know-how under non-discriminatory and transparent conditions.

In the trustee’s opinion all commitments have been comprehensively and effectively complied with in accordance with the CCA decision, within the undertaken deadlines, producing the desired positive effects and permanently changing the conditions of competition for the better.

The CCA could therefore confirm that all the commitments listed in the CCA decision on conditionally approved concentration between the undertakings Grand Automotive LLP and Renault/Nissan have been complied with within the set deadlines.

The summary of the CCA decision on the conditionally approved concentration of 9 August 2022 in the English language is available here