Auction services: anti-competitive practices

The CMA has accepted commitments offered by ATG Media that address the CMA’s competition concerns regarding conduct in the supply of live online auction platform services in the UK.

Case timetable

Date Action
29 June 2017 CMA commitments decision published and case closure
June 2017 CMA consideration of representations received in response to the consultation on commitments
30 May 2017 to 19 June 2017 Commitments consultation period
30 May 2017 Consultation opened on commitments proposed by ATG Media
November 2016 to May 2017 Initial investigation: information gathering, including issuing formal or informal information requests and receipt of parties’ responses
22 November 2016 Investigation opened

Change log

Date of change Reason for change Changes made to timetable
30 May 2017 The CMA was consulting on commitments offered by ATG Media which, if accepted, would result in closing the investigation The date for the decision on whether to proceed or close the investigation was postponed

Procedural Officer decision

26 September 2017: The CMA has published a Procedural Officer decision concerning the investigation.

Advice for auction houses on online bidding services

13 July 2017: The CMA has published guidance to help auction houses and others understand ATG Media’s commitments. ATG Media, the leading supplier of online bidding services, has agreed to change its practices when dealing with auction houses. The CMA had concerns that some of ATG’s practices were illegally preventing its customers from being able to shop around and use rival platforms. Following the changes, auction houses will now have greater choice over which online bidding platform to use.

The two guidance documents below explain what business practices ATG Media has agreed to change and what this means for auction houses.

Decision to accept binding commitments

On 29 June 2017, the CMA published its decision to accept binding commitments from ATG Media in relation to suspected exclusionary and restrictive pricing practices, including most favoured nation provisions in respect of online sales.

Formal acceptance of commitments by the CMA has resulted in the termination of the investigation, with no decision made as to whether or not the Competition Act 1998 (the Act) or the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) have been infringed.

Background

On 22 November 2016, the CMA launched an investigation into suspected breaches of Chapters I and II of the Act and Articles 101 and 102 TFEU in respect of the supply of live online auction platform services in the UK. The investigation relates to suspected anti-competitive agreements or concerted practices and suspected abuse of dominance in the supply of auction services in the UK, in particular, suspected exclusionary and restrictive pricing practices, including most favoured nation provisions in respect of online sales.

During its investigation, the CMA undertook a number of investigative steps to gather evidence from ATG Media and a range of third parties.

The CMA had also received an application under section 35 of the Act for interim measures in relation to this case. Formal acceptance of the commitments makes the giving of any interim measures superfluous.

Consultation on commitments

On 30 May 2017, the CMA published a notice of intention to accept the commitments offered by ATG Media and invited representations from interested third parties on that proposed course of action.

Following consideration of the representations received in response to the notice, on 29 June 2017 the CMA accepted the final commitments offered by ATG Media which address its competition concerns.

Contacts

Media contact

Rebecca Cassar (020 3738 6633, rebecca.cassar@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Assistant Project Director

Cleo Alliston (020 3738 6669, cleo.alliston@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Project Directors

Lucilia Falsarella Pereira (020 3738 6778, lucilia.falsarella-pereira@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Tim Capel (020 3738 6261, tim.capel@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Senior Responsible Officer

Michael Grenfell (020 3738 6134, michael.grenfell@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Anyone that has concerns about compliance with the commitments can contact the CMA by email (general.enquiries@cma.gsi.gov.uk) or by phone (020 3738 6000).

Anyone with information about suspected anti-competitive activity is encouraged to contact the CMA.

Published 22 November 2016
Last updated 13 July 2017 + show all updates
  1. Advice for auction houses on online bidding services published.
  2. CMA commitments decision published.
  3. Consultation on commitments launched.
  4. First published.