The Conseil d’Etat Upholds FCA Decision Clearing Naval Group and Piriou Joint Venture

June 12, 2018

Willkie represented Naval Group before the Conseil d’Etat regarding the successful appeal of a French Competition Authority decision.

On May 25, the Conseil d’Etat (the highest administrative court in France) upheld the French Competition Authority’s (FCA) decision no. 16-DCC-120 dated July 28, 2016, clearing the creation of a joint venture between DCNS (now Naval Group) and Piriou.

In 2013, shipbuilders Naval Group and Piriou created a new joint venture, Kership, dedicated to the construction and sale of small naval vessels. The parent companies resolved to develop Kership’s activity beyond its initial scope, and the joint venture thus became fully active, with respect to competition law matters. Kership’s transformation was communicated to the FCA, which cleared the transaction in Phase I without commitments.

OCEA, a competing shipbuilder, challenged the FCA’s decision before the Conseil d’Etat. It notably complained that the FCA did not conduct a market test, refused to analyze the effects of the transaction in the “rest of the world” market and did not consider the risk of vertical effects of the transaction. In its May 25, 2018 decision the Conseil d’État rejected all claims of the applicant and confirmed the FCA decision in all points.

Willkie represented Naval Group both before the FCA and the Conseil d’Etat. The Willkie team was led by national partner Faustine Viala and included associate David Kupka (competition) and Special European Counsel Charles-Antoine Erignac and associate Perrine Saunier (public law).