German media group and its attorney heavily fined for illegal cooperation agreement

9.13.2018

The German competition authorities have fined DuMont media group for entering into an illegal market-sharing agreement with their competitor Bonner General-Anzeiger. A fine has also been imposed on the attorney advising DuMont on the drafting of the agreement.
By attorney Sonny Gaarslev and assistant attorney Emil Petri

In 2000, the two German media groups DuMont and Bonner General-Anzeiger entered into an agreement in which both parties undertook to phase out their presence in specific areas in the Bonn region. By dividing the region between them, DuMont and Bonner General-Anzeiger were able to eliminate the competition that had previously existed between them. 

The German competition authorities found that the agreement served to phase out competition in the newspaper market in the Bonn region and therefore constituted an illegal restriction of competition.

In an attempt to hide the market sharing from the authorities, the illegal agreement had been executed and signed before a notary in Switzerland. Consequently, the authorities did not gain knowledge of the agreement until after the filing of a leniency application by Bonner General-Anzeiger. As a result of the application, the authorities initiated a dawn raid of DuMont’s head offices and the law firm of the attorney who had been advising DuMont on the drafting of the illegal agreement.

Both DuMont and the attorney in question admitted to the accusations about the illegal market-sharing agreement with Bonner General-Anzeiger. They were subsequently ordered by the German competition authorities to pay a joint fine of EUR 16 million. Due to the leniency application, Bonner General-Anzeiger was not fined.

Read the press release of the German competition authorities.