Press release

CMA consults on improved commitments relating to platform services for the automotive sector

The CMA today opened a short consultation on improved commitments proposed by epyx Limited to address competition concerns in relation to Epyx’s conduct in the market for the supply of vehicle service, maintenance and repair (SMR) platforms in the UK. Epyx supplies the 1link Service Network SMR platform in the UK.

Car engine

SMR platforms are online platforms that help businesses with vehicle fleets (such as leasing companies and rental companies) to procure SMR services for these vehicles from other businesses (such as vehicle dealers, fast-fit outlets and garages).

The improved commitments were offered in relation to an investigation commenced by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into whether epyx Limited (Epyx) had abused a dominant position in relation to the provision of the 1Link Service Network platform. The CMA took over the case from the OFT at the start of April (see Notes for editors).

In March 2014, the OFT announced that it was consulting on its provisional decision to accept commitments offered by Epyx and invited comments from interested third parties. Epyx’s original commitments aimed to relax or remove barriers to switching and entry in the market. The improved commitments offered by Epyx follow comments raised in this consultation and the CMA provisionally considers that these address its competition concerns.

Epyx’s revised commitments are available on the CMA’s webpages.

Ann Pope, Senior Director in the CMA’s Enforcement Directorate, said:

The CMA has taken into account views from consultation respondents that the commitments should be strengthened. The CMA considers that the modifications now offered by Epyx achieve this. These stronger commitments provide Epyx’s customers with greater contractual flexibility to develop, evaluate, use or switch to alternative systems and provide clear opportunities for competitors to enter the market.

We would now like to hear the views of interested third parties on the improved commitments being proposed.

The CMA proposes to accept the modified commitments, subject to consultation, and is inviting interested third parties to comment by 18 June 2014 by post or email to:

SMR Platforms Team
Competition and Markets Authority
Victoria House
37 Southampton Row
London WC1B 4AD

smrplatforms@cma.gsi.gov.uk

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the OFT, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. For more information on the CMA, see its homepage, follow its Twitter @CMAgovuk or Flickr or visit its LinkedIn page
  2. You can see all updates on this case on the CMA’s webpage.
  3. SMR platforms are online platforms used by companies who manage the service, maintenance and repair of vehicle fleets, such as leasing companies, rental companies and corporate fleets. These companies buy (demand) SMR services and are therefore referred to as ‘demand-side customers’. SMR services are provided by a wide range of suppliers including vehicle dealers, fast-fit outlets and garage chains. These suppliers are referred to as ‘supply-side customers’. SMR platforms are two-sided in that they connect these two groups of customers, allowing the demand side to procure SMR services from the supply side.
  4. Supply-side customers are free to use alternative systems with their clients who are not subscribed to 1link Service Network SMR platform. The commitments ensure that supply-side customers are also free to use alternative systems with their clients who are subscribed to 1link Service Network SMR platform wherever requested by their clients.
  5. The commitments have been offered by Epyx and its ultimate parent company, FleetCor Technologies, Inc.
  6. The Competition Act 1998 empowers the CMA to accept such binding commitments from parties under investigation as it considers appropriate to address the CMA’s competition concerns. Where the CMA proposes to accept the commitments offered, it will consult those who are likely to be affected by them and give them an opportunity to give the CMA their views. Where the parties to the investigation subsequently offer revised commitments which include modifications which the CMA considers to be material, the CMA will allow another opportunity for any interested third parties to express their views. The CMA will take any representations of third parties into account before taking a final decision on whether or not to accept the proposed commitments as modified.
  7. When the CMA has formally accepted commitments, it must close its investigation into the conduct that was the subject of the investigation. The CMA may reopen its investigation and take other action in certain limited circumstances (for example, where it has reasonable grounds for believing that there has been a material change of circumstances since the commitments were accepted).
  8. Any decision by the CMA accepting binding commitments will not constitute a determination as to the legality or otherwise of the conduct by the parties under investigation either prior to acceptance of the commitments or once the commitments are in place.

Photo above by Stephen Ramsey on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons, photo resized.

Published 5 June 2014