Czerska 8/10 Street
Numer KRS: 59944
January 8, 2021 / 08:29
The decision of the UOKiK President is a disgrace to the Office. It protects Agora’s competitors rather than competition. It has been adopted in breach of the law and administrative procedures.
The cherry-picking and arbitrary evaluation of evidence and the economic analysis together with the fabricated theory of “antimonopoly damage” infringe the merger control standards developed both by the Polish Office and the European Union, whose regulations have inspired the Polish antimonopoly law. The UOKiK President rejected substantive arguments presented in the case and his decision is based on selectively chosen materials, cherry-picked to support a strategy adopted in advance. It is an unprecedented breach of the principles of impartiality and objectivity of the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.
The conclusions drawn by President Chróstny from the market review are absurd. Under the false pretense of protecting the market against a “duopoly-like situation” the President protects the extant quasi-monopoly situation. By doing so, the UOKiK President ignores the arguments raised by advertisers indicating the positive effects of Agora’s new offering and increased pressure on the market dominator.
When assessing the combined share of the two biggest players on the Polish nationwide radio advertising market at 70% after the merger of Agora with Eurozet, the UOKiK President departs from the truth. The share after the merger would be a little under 65%, 39% of it being the share of the current market leader.
It is worth noting that even after the merger, the currently largest player on the radio market would retain its dominant position, as its share in the Polish nationwide radio advertising market is nearly 40%, while the post-merger total share of Agora and Eurozet would be around 25%. When issuing the decision prohibiting the merger, the UOKiK President was well aware that Agora was prepared to further reduce the share. He announced his decision just hours before an agreed meeting on this topic. Agora already before that proposed actions that would neutralize the objections presented by the UOKiK President in relation to many local radio commercials markets, especially in Poznań, Legnica and Zielona Góra.
Agora was not advised about the conclusion of the proceedings and had no opportunity to acquaint itself with the files of the case or to articulate its position before the decision was passed. Therefore the President breached a number of administrative procedure rules, including the applicant’s right to present its position at each stage of ongoing proceedings.
With its 40% stake, Agora remains a minority Eurozet shareholder. Confident as we are about the value of our arguments, we will appeal against the UOKiK President’s decision to the relevant court and are determined to use any available legal tools to this end.