Hogan Lovells advises BMW in EU cartel proceedings

Hogan Lovells advises BMW in EU cartel proceedings

Press releases | 09 July 2021

Led by Munich partner Christoph Wünschmann, international law firm Hogan Lovells has advised Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (BMW) on the cartel allegations in connection with the so-called "Circle of 5" ("5er-Kreis").

One of the most extensive EU antitrust proceedings in recent years has come to an end. On 8 July 2021 and after several years of investigations, the European Commission has closed the cartel proceedings against the German car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and VW.

The subject of the investigations were not classic cartel allegations such as price fixing, customer or market allocation agreements, but purely technical discussions between the manufacturers. In its decision, the Commission found that from 2009 to 2014 the companies had violated EU antitrust law with regard to certain individual topics within these technical discussions. Fines were imposed on the companies, whereby Daimler, as the leniency applicant, was granted full immunity from fines.

In the course of the proceedings, the Commission significantly reduced its initial allegations and thereby cleared the way for a settlement, which was ultimately agreed to by all parties. Thus, already during the proceedings, BMW was able to reduce the provision set up for these proceedings by approximately EUR 1 billion.

With a team led by Munich partner Dr Christoph Wünschmann, Hogan Lovells provided comprehensive advice to BMW on the cartel allegations. Immediately after the cartel investigations became known, Hogan Lovells was involved in an extensive internal investigation of the Circle of 5 discussions at BMW. Hogan Lovells also accompanied the several-day dawn raid at BMW in Munich in 2017 and represented the company in the further course of the cartel proceedings until their successful conclusion through settlement.

Core Hogan Lovells team for BMW AG

Dr. Christoph Wünschmann (Partner), Johanna Brock-Wenzek (Counsel), Matthias Schlau (Senior Associate), Hanna Weber, Dr. Mareike Walter (Associates), Shota Meskhi, Maria-Theresia Murr (Senior Projects Associates) (Antitrust, Munich);

Dr. Jan-Christoph Rudowicz (Senior Associate, Antitrust, Hamburg); 

Maria Weiss (Senior Associate, Litigation, Hamburg).