Kevin Coates advises clients on critical antitrust matters drawing on his extensive public sector experience in the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission ("DG COMP"), most recently as Head of a Cartel Unit.
His practice has a particular focus on advising companies in the electronics, technology, software and e-commerce sectors.
Mr. Coates advises on all aspects of EU, UK and international competition law, including merger control, compliance, cartels and leniency, and abuse of dominance.
Mr. Coates served as Head of a Cartel Unit at the Directorate-General for Competition (“DG Comp”) at the European Commission between 2012 and 2016. Prior to this, he held several positions within DG Comp, over nearly 20 years in total, including advising the Director General of DG Comp on policy and communications issues, and overseeing competition cases in the telecoms and media sectors. While working for the Director General he was one of the team that produced the Guidance on Enforcement Priorities under Article 102.
He was also a visiting research fellow at NYU School of Law in 2009-2010.
Prior to joining DG Comp, he served as in-house Counsel at AOL Europe where he was responsible for antitrust and regulatory issues for AOL subsidiary companies in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Mr. Coates is the author of “Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets” published by Oxford University Press in 2011.
Mr. Coates is co-chair of Covington’s Internet of Things (IoT) group, and leads the firm's Brexit Task Force.
The European Commission launches an antitrust sector inquiry into the sector of Internet of Things for consumer-related devices and services
On 16 July 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced that it has launched an antitrust sector inquiry into “consumer-related products and services that are connected to a network and can be controlled at a distance, for example via a voice assistant or mobile device.”
Sustainability and Competition: Covington Assists Unilever on Submission to European Competition Authorities on the Competition Implications of Sustainability Cooperation
The paper reflects insights from experts across Unilever and puts forward examples of existing or possible co-operations,
“Four-to-three” mergers no longer taboo? The Commission unconditionally approves the acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL
In November 2018, following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the European Commission (“Commission”) unconditionally approved the acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL, respectively the fourth and third largest players in the Dutch retail mobile telecoms market. The merged entity remains the third largest player in this market after KPN and VodafoneZiggo. This transaction is the first “four-to-three” telecom merger approved without remedies under Commissioner Vestager’s term, following earlier Commission decisions on four-to-three mergers in (i) H3G/Wind, where approval of a joint venture was conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets to allow a new MNO to enter the market; and (ii) Three/O2, an acquisition that was blocked by the Commission. It shows that there is no “magic number” for players in the telecoms market and that much will depend on the specifics of the merger.
T-Mobile NL and Tele2 NL are both mobile network operators (“MNOs”) active in the Netherlands. T-Mobile owns a mobile network with nationwide coverage over which it provides 2G, 3G, 4G and NarrowBand-Internet of Things mobile communication services. It also provides fixed broadband, TV and telephony services based on wholesale access to other operators’ fixed network. Tele2 NL has operated a 4G-only mobile network since 2015, and also offers fixed broadband services. In December 2017, the parties announced that T-Mobile would acquire 75% of Tele2’s shares for EUR 190 million.
In June 2018 the Commission launched an in-depth investigation “to ensure that the proposed transaction between T-Mobile NL and Tele2 NL will not lead to higher prices or less choice in mobile services for Dutch consumers“. The Commission outlined the following preliminary concerns:
- The reduction in the number of MNOs and the limited incentives of the merged entity to compete with KPN and VodafoneZiggo, could lead to higher prices and less investment in mobile telecommunications networks.
- The lessening of competitive pressure in the Dutch retail mobile market, could increase the potential for the coordination of competitive behaviour between the three remaining MNOs.
- Prospective and existing mobile virtual network operators (“MVNOs”), who rely on wholesale access to MNOs’ networks to offer their retail mobile services, could potentially face greater difficulties in obtaining favourable wholesale access terms from MNOs.
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