An Ever-Expanding Net: Parent Companies’ Exposure Under EU Competition Rules for Antitrust Infringement of Subsidiaries, Joint Ventures and Portfolio Companies

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The attribution of liability for cartel fines within corporate groups remains a controversial topic in the EU competition law arena, with a number of recent cases continuing to expand the scope of parental liability. This article considers the rationale for imposing parental liability in such a sweeping fashion, under the scope of the EU competition regime design. It then provides a comparison of recent cases to illustrate the European Commission’s hardened approach towards parental liability, backed by the EU Courts, and the broad commercial and practical implications for parent companies with potential parental liability arising from transactions involving acquisition of less than full ownership.