Our antitrust practice has been recognized worldwide for its expertise in representing clients in various high-profile cases. Our highly qualified professionals are pioneers in the field of antitrust, and have substantial experience and accumulated knowledge of the relevant antitrust regulations and practices through their extended experience in handling various cases, study abroad, training at specialized institutions and/or work experience at the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). In addition, we have successfully represented international and domestic clients in landmark antitrust cases in Korea, including the ground-breaking abuse of market dominance cases against Microsoft, Intel and Qualcomm. Since 2002, our antitrust team has consistently been ranked by Global Competition Review (GCR) as one of the world’s top 100 antitrust law firms, and highly trained professionals and in-depth experience in dealing with an wide array of cases enabled Yulchon to be named as the best law firm in the field of antitrust in 2012. The TFT-LCD International Cartel Case was acknowledged by the GCR Awards as the Behavioural Matter of the Year 2012 in the Asia-Pacific Region.
We take great pride in providing our clients with the best legal service. From providing advice at the business planning phase, to responding to an investigation by the KFTC, to administrative, civil and criminal proceedings to successfully resolve legal issues under the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA), we believe our antitrust team is the best one to protect the interests of our clients.
Major Practice Areas
- Advisory work for the business planning or daily operation related matters
- At the KFTC and/or Court procedures
- Abuse of Market Dominance
- Unfair Trade Practices
Advisory work for the business planning or daily operation related matters
- Yulchon’s Antitrust group has advised Hyundai Group, Samsung Group, SK Group, LG Group, Kolon Group, Lotte Group, Doosan Group, Dongbu Group, and others as well as their affiliates in regards to the matters related to the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act such as total investment amount, subsidiaries, separation of affiliates, abuse of the market-dominant position, and unfair trade activities, in addition to various issues regarding the Fair Transactions in Subcontracting Act, Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising, and other laws pertaining to the concerns of the Korean Fair Trade Commission. Over the years the Antitrust team has offered memoranda for hundreds of cases on a wide array of antitrust-related subjects. The trend shows that the Korean Fair Trade Commission is expanding the scope of interrogation from the traditional manufacturing industry to the fields of service and new economy: information and communications, broadcasting, energy, finance, medicine, and pharmaceuticals. Yulchon’s Antitrust group provides comprehensive legal counseling for antitrust issues that arise from the establishment of business strategies and execution thereof based on in-depth knowledge of the client’s industry.
At the KFTC and/or Court procedures
A. Mergers and Acquisitions
- In 2011, we represented Texas Instruments in its acquisition of National Semiconductor, an analog semiconductor manufacturing company. This deal involved obtaining merger approvals from many different jurisdictions, including the U.S., EU, China and Korea. We provided timely advice to our client in obtaining accelerated approval of the merger (within 14 days of submission of the merger report) from the KFTC, and Texas Instruments obtained the earliest approval of the merger from the KFTC as compared to other jurisdictions.
- In 2011, we represented a private equity fund established by Fila Korea and Mirae Asset MAPS investment management in its acquisition of Acushnet, an internationally renowned golf equipment company known for its popular Titleist golf balls. We provided comprehensive legal advice throughout the entire transaction process, and successfully obtained merger approval from the KFTC.
- In 2010, we represented Lotte Shopping during its acquisition of GS Mart. This deal, involving two of the biggest conglomerates in Korea, was one of the most significant M&A deals in the nation. We provided timely advice to Lotte during the whole transaction process, including the competitive bidding, selection of the preferred bidder, negotiation and execution of the business transfer agreement, and obtaining unconditional approval of the merger from the KFTC. Obtaining unconditional approval for our client was particularly meaningful in light of the fact that previous similar deals had either only obtained conditional approval or failed to obtain any approval at all from the KFTC.
- In 2009, we represented Samsung Electronics and Samsung Electro-Mechanics in their joint establishment of Samsung LED, a new company exclusively in charge of Samsung’s LED production. We provided comprehensive legal advice regarding its establishment and successfully assisted in filing the merger report in six jurisdictions.
- In 2008, we represented Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI in their joint establishment of Samsung Mobile Display, a new company exclusively in charge of Samsung’s production of mid/small LCD screens and AMOLED screens. We provided comprehensive advice regarding its establishment and successfully assisted the client in filing the merger report in three jurisdictions.
- In 2007, we represented Rhodia Polyamide in its opposition to Owens Corning’s acquisition of Saint-Gobain Vetrotex’s reinforcements and composite fabrics businesses. We successfully argued that the acquisition would restrict competition in the relevant market. As a result, the KFTC issued a corrective measure requiring Owens Corning to sell some of its shares or the entire set of its equipment related to the businesses.
- In 2006, we represented Hyundai Communications Network (HCN), the parent company of HCN Kumho Systems, in acquiring full ownership of Daegu Bukbu Broadcasting. HCN Kumho Systems and Daegu Bukbu Broadcasting were the only two system operators in Daegu. Although the merger would make HCN a monopolist in the district, we were able to reach a reasonable settlement with the KFTC on terms satisfactory to our client
- In 2005, we represented the seller in Hite Brewery’s acquisition of shares in Jinro. Hite Brewery was the largest beer manufacturer in Korea and Jinro was the largest soju manufacturer. The transaction was worth at least KRW 3 trillion. We succeeded in obtaining conditional approval of the merger for our client.
- In 2005, we represented SK Telecom, the top mobile service provider in Korea, in acquiring Loen Entertainment to secure a stable supply of music sources in the online and mobile music businesses. We obtained business combination approval within in a short period of time to our client’s satisfaction.
- In 2004, we represented Crown Confectionery in its acquisition of Haitai Confectionery & Foods. Crown Confectionery, which was then the fourth largest company in the Korean confectionery industry, formed a consortium to acquire Haitai Confectionery & Foods, the third largest company. The resulting company would have the second largest market share. We obtained approval for the merger within a short period of time, enabling our client to successfully acquire Haitai.
- In 2004, we assisted STX Corporation in its acquisition of Bumyang Merchant Marine. We advised our client throughout the entire process of the merger, from the initial negotiations, execution of the agreement, and reporting the merger to the KFTC for its review. We successfully obtained approval for the merger.
- In 2002, we advised Lotte Shopping in its acquisition of Midopa. We provided legal counsel throughout the entire process of the merger, from the initial negotiations, execution of the agreement, and reporting the merger to the KFTC for its review. We successfully obtained approval for the merger.
- In 2002, we advised SK Networks Company in its acquisition of Korea Thrunet. We provided legal counsel throughout the entire process of the merger, from the initial negotiations, execution of the agreement, and reporting the merger to the KFTC for its review. We successfully obtained approval for the merger.
- In 2000, we advised SK Telecom, the largest wireless communication service provider in Korea, in its acquisition of shares in Shinsegi Telecom, the third largest wireless communication service provider in Korea. This was the largest M&A transaction in Korea in 2000. We advised our client throughout the entire process of the acquisition, from initial negotiations, execution of the agreement, and reporting the merger to the KFTC for its review. Contrary to skeptical views, we succeeded in obtaining conditional approval for the merger.
- In 2011, we represented Samsung Electronics in a price-fixing and supply-fixing cartel case involving 10 TFT-LCD manufacturing/distribution companies from Korea and Taiwan. In this case, the KFTC originally imposed an administrative fine of 194 billion Korean Won against ten TFT-LCD companies. We assisted Samsung Electronics from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings.
- In 2011, we represented Dongbu life insurance and KDB life insurance in a case involving 16 life insurance companies charged with engaging in unfair collaborative acts with regard to expected interest rates and publicly announced interest rates of individual insurance products. We assisted our clients from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings and obtained on Dongbu’s behalf a full exemption from fines and on KDB’s behalf a substantial reduction of the fines originally recommended by the examiner.
- In 2011, we represented Universal Music, SM Entertainment, and Neowiz Internet from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings in a music source price-fixing cartel case involving 13 music source distributors. We succeeded in obtaining a greater reduction in the degree of the sanctions recommended by the examiner against our clients as compared to other respondents in the case.
- In 2010, we represented Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines, a Lufthansa subsidiary, in a price-fixing cartel case involving twenty-six international air carriers. This case was the biggest global cartel case in Korea to date and involved many complex Korean antitrust law issues. We assisted Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings.
- In 2010, we represented Korea Investors Service (KIS) before the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) and demonstrated its capabilities as a full-service law firm throughout the entire KFTC process, starting from conducting an internal investigation and maneuvering through the KFTC process.
- In 2009, we represented GS Caltex, the second largest oil company in Korea and a joint venture company between Chevron of the United States and GS Group of Korea, in a case involving six Korean LPG suppliers charged with fixing LPG prices. We assisted GS Caltex from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and succeeded in obtaining a 75% reduction in fines as well as an exemption from criminal prosecution.
- In 2009, we represented Donga Otsuka, a joint venture company between Donga Phar- maceutical of Korea and Otsuka of Japan, in a case involving five beverage manufacturers charged with jointly increasing their beverage prices. We assisted Donga Otsuka from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC and obtained an exemption from corrective measures and fines for our client.
- In 2009, we represented one of four credit rating agencies charged with jointly increasing their rating service fees. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained an exemption from corrective measures and fines for our client.
- In 2009, we represented Samsung Electronics in a price-fixing cartel case and obtained a dismissal decision without any penalties from the KFTC.
- In 2009, we represented Bridgestone in cartel case involving six marine hose manufacturers charged with bid riggings for marine hoses. We assisted Bridgestone from the investigation stage to end of the KFTC proceedings and obtained a substantial reduction in fines.
- In 2009, we represented UPM in an international cartel case involving four copy paper distributors charged with jointly increasing their paper prices. We assisted UPM from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings and obtained a full exemption from sanctions, including corrective measures and fines.
- In 2008, we represented two life insurance companies and two casualty insurance companies in a case involving 24 insurance companies and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation charged with jointly increasing the insurance premium rates for their group insurance and retirement insurance policies and rigging a bid for public servants’ group insurance policy. We assisted our clients from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings and obtained a two-third reduction in fines and an exemption from criminal prosecution for our clients.
- In 2008, we represented Woori Bank, the second largest bank in Korea, in a case involving four banks charged with collaborating on deciding fees for their joint CD network’s cash withdrawal service. We assisted Woori Bank from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and our client was cleared of all charges filed by the examiners.
- In 2008, we represented Megabox, one of the largest cinema chain firms in Korea, in a case involving six movie theater operators charged with engaging in unfair collaborative acts to increase the ticket prices in their cinemas located in Daejeon, Masan, and Changwon. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC proceedings and our client was cleared of all charges by the KFTC.
- In 2007, we represented Dongbu Insurance in a case involving ten insurance companies charged with engaging in unfair collaborative acts regarding their general insurance premium rates. We represented our client from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained a full reduction of fines.
- In 2007, we co-represented KT in a trial over a fine of approximately KRW 110 billion (approximately USD 93.5 million) imposed against landline communication service providers by the KFTC for allegedly engaging in unfair collaborative acts regarding local phone call charges. We convinced the court to revoke the fine.
- In 2007, we represented Ssangyong Engineering & Construction in a case involving three construction companies charged with unfairly collaborating in a bid held by the Environmental Management Corporation. We represented our client from the investigation stage to the end of KFTC’s proceedings and obtained a full exemption of fines.
- In 2006, we represented SK Telecom in a case involving three mobile communication service providers charged with unfair collaboration on service charges. This was the first case regarding unfair collaborative acts committed by mobile communication service providers. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the end of the KFTC’s proceedings. Our client was cleared of some of the allegations at the investigation stage, and also obtained a substantial reduction of fines for one of the charges.
- In 2005, we represented a foreign company involved in an international cartel scheme and filed the first leniency application in an international cartel case in Korean history. As a result, the client received full exemption from fines and other sanctions...
- In 2002, we represented Nippon Carbon in an appeal to the KFTC in a case involving six graphite electrode manufacturers charged with price-fixing. This was the first KFTC case involving extraterritorial application of the Korean antitrust law in an antitrust case. We obtained a 67% reduction in fines, the most favorable measure obtained by any of the five companies that had appealed the original penalties.
C. Abuse of Market Dominance
- Between 2007 and 2011, we defended Hyundai Motors against allegations of abusing its market dominant position in the Korean automobile and truck (5 tons or less) markets. Hyundai Motor was charged with restricting sales agencies from relocating, limiting the recruiting of sales employees, and forcing sales targets on sales. Our firm successfully obtained a substantial reduction of fines from the KFTC, and in 2008, in the related administrative appeal, secured a decision revoking all sanctions (including corrective orders and fines) imposed against our client with regard to alleged practice of forcing sales targets. In 2011, during surcharge recalculation on the remaining charges, we successfully challenged recalculation of sales revenue affected by the alleged violations, and ultimately obtained a 90% reduction of fines as compared to the originally imposed fine amount of approximately KRW 21.6 billion.
- Between 2007 and 2011, we defended SKT against charges that it abused its market dominant position by establishing a system through which subscribers using SKT’s MP3 phones could play only those MP3 files downloaded from the company’s music site, Melon. We obtained a significant reduction in fines recommended by the examiner at the KFTC proceeding, then filed and won an administrative appeal revoking the corrective orders and administrative fines in their entirety. The Supreme Court of Korea upheld this decision in 2011.
- In 2010, we represented Asiana Airlines (Asiana) in the KFTC investigation into Asiana and Korean Air’s alleged abuse of market dominance in the airline industry. Asiana and Korean Air were charged with interfering with budget airlines’ entry into the air carrier market, changing the methodology of calculating fuel surcharges in a manner unfavorable to consumers, and providing volume incentives to travel agents on the condition of exclusivity. Yulchon was able to distinguish Asiana’s actions from those of Korean Air and justify Asiana’s volume incentives and method of charging fuel surcharges, while obtaining a substantial reduction of fines regarding the charge of interfering with budget airlines’ entry into the air carrier market.
- In 2009, we represented Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Nextreaming, and Ericsson in a case where Qualcomm was charged with abusing its market dominant position in the CDMA technology market and chipset market for CDMA mobile phones. Qualcomm was charged with offering discriminative royalties and kickbacks and refusing to disclose certain essential information. Qualcomm received the largest fine, KRW 260 billion (approximately USD 221 million), ever imposed by the KFTC.
- In 2008, we represented AMD in a case where Intel was charged with abusing its market dominant position in the Korean CPU market, which excluded AMD from competition. Intel was charged with providing kickbacks to PC manufacturers in exchange for not using AMD products or maintaining the use of Intel products at a certain level. Intel received a KRW 26.6 billion (approximately USD 22.1 million) fine from the KFTC.
- In 2006, we represented Daum Communications and RealNetworks in a case against Microsoft, which was charged with abusing its market dominant position in the online messenger and streaming media markets. We assisted our clients in reaching a settlement in which Microsoft agreed to provide economic benefits worth USD 30 million and USD 760 million to Daum Communications and Real Networks, respectively. We also represented the KFTC in a motion filed by Microsoft with the Seoul High Court for suspension of enforcement and prevailed (The case did not proceed further since Microsoft dropped the litigation).
- In 2003, we represented LG Card in a case where Hyundai Capital, Samsung Capital, and our client were charged with harming consumer benefits by charging high commissions for installment financing. Our client was cleared of all charges.
- In 2001, we represented Hyundai Hysco in a case where POSCO was charged with abusing its market dominant position. We also advised the KFTC in issuing a corrective measure on POSCO for its violations.
D. Unfair Trade Practices
- During the period from 2007 to 2009, we represented many pharmaceutical companies (domestic as well as multinational) in cases where those companies were charged with engaging in unfair solicitation of customers by providing economic benefits to healthcare professionals of medical institutions in return for prescriptions for their medical products. We assisted our clients from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained substantial reductions in fines.
- In 2008, we successfully defended Daum Communications Corp. against allegations that it provided free advertisements to its affiliates, thereby discriminating against other advertisers. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained a dismissal for Daum.
- In 2006, we successfully defended Woori Bank against allegations that it unlawfully discriminated in favor of its affiliates by allowing them to charge a higher commission than non-affiliates. We obtained a dismissal at the investigation stage of the KFTC.
- In 2003, we represented Daum Communications Corp. during the KFTC’s investigation into alleged unfair discrimination in anti-spam measures. We assisted our client and obtained a dismissal at the investigation stage of the KFTC.
- In 2002, we successfully defended Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation before the KFTC (obtaining a surcharge reduction of 30%) against allegations that they provided favorable rates on auto-installment payment agreements to their affiliated companies. We won on appeal to the Seoul High Court, which was upheld by the Supreme Court.
- In 2001, we represented SK Telecom in a case involving discriminatory treatment of its subsidiary, SK Global. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained reductions of most of the surcharges. We won on appeal in the administrative case filed with the Seoul High Court and the Supreme Court (2004).
- In 2011, we represented SM entertainment, Korea’s largest multimedia entertainment company, in a case where it was charged with abusing its superior trading position in making unfair exclusive contracts with its entertainers and trainees. We assisted our client in the KFTC proceeding and successfully obtained a substantial reduction in the scope of the KFTC’s corrective order.
- In 2008, we represented Korea Infoservice in a case where it was charged with abuse of its superior trading position due to its termination of contracts with its sales agents before the contracts’ terms expired. We assisted our client from the investigation stage to the plenary session of the KFTC and obtained a dismissal for our client.
- In 2006, our successful defense of Hyundai IPark Mall resulted in the KFTC’s decision to end its investigation into the allegation that Hyundai IPark Mall was abusing its superior trading position vis-a-vis its advertising agency.
- In 2004 and 2005, we provided legal advice to Samchully Co., Ltd., the largest city gas provider in Korea. We assisted our client and obtained the KFTC’s decision not to initiate the examination process and a dismissal for the company.
- In 2011, we represented Baxter, a multinational pharmaceutical company, in a case where Hanall Biopharma submitted a complaint to the KFTC accusing Baxter of unfairly refusing to deal (which involved negotiations between Baxter and Hanall to preserve Hanall’s status as the exclusive dealer of certain Baxter medical products) and unfairly soliciting customers. We assisted our client in the KFTC investigation stage and obtained a dismissal of all charges.
- In 2011, we represented Lock & Lock, the largest player in domestic plastic package container market in a case where it brought a complaint to the KFTC against Samkwang Glass’ Glass-lock for its misleading advertising practice with regard to its patent and environmental hormone. We successfully convinced the KFTC to impose a corrective order, an administrative fine, and a publication order (requiring publication by Samkwang Glass in a major daily newspaper that a corrective order was imposed upon it by the KFTC due the misleading advertisement) on Samkwang Glass.
- In 2006, we successfully defended Isu Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. against claims of false and exaggerated advertising with regard to the company’s newly built apartments. We obtained a dismissal from the KFTC at the initial investigation stage.
- From 2003 to 2005, we represented Daum Communications in an administrative action before the Korean Supreme Court to appeal a corrective order imposed on Daum. The case arose from advertisements posted by a third-party entity that conducted business on an internet shopping mall operated by Daum. With the reversal of the original decision, we obtained a decision in favor of Daum from the Korean Supreme Court.
- In 2002, we successfully defended CJ O Shopping Co., Ltd. (formerly, 39 TV Home Shopping Company) against allegations of unfair advertising and succeeded in having the surcharge revoked.
- In 2000, we filed a defamation complaint with the KFTC on behalf of Global Village Culture Information Service, which was the sole standard computer network provider for issuance of admission tickets, and obtained an injunction prohibiting the distribution of defamatory materials and refraining from any defamatory actions.
- We have advised Samsung Group, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Group, Kolon Group, Lotte Group, Doosan Group, Dongbu Group, and their affiliates on matters covered by the KFTC. The issues were mainly related to the MRFTA, Subcontract Law and Act on Fair Labeling and Advertisement, Regulation on Affiliates of Large Business Groups designated by the KFTC, Regulations on Holding Companies, abuse of market-dominant position and unfair trading practices.
- We have provided legal opinions regarding all types of issues under the MRFTA.
- 2016-02-05 [Chambers Asia] Yulchon Ranked Band 1 for Tax and Antitrust in the Chambers Asia Pacific 2016
- 2015-11-10 [Legal 500] Yulchon Ranked Tier 1 for Tax, Antitrust, Employment, and Real Estate in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016
- 2015-10-27 [Asialaw Profiles] Yulchon’s Antitrust, Tax, and IP Group Receives Top Ratings by Asialaw Profiles 2016
- 2017-03-10 Yulchon Contributes Korea Chapter to The Cartels and Leniency Review 2017
- 2017-02-14 [Who’s Who Legal] Sai Ree Yun, Sung Bom Park and Cecil Saehoon Chung recognized as leading lawyers in Who’s Who Legal: Competition 2017
- 2017-01-18 [Global Competition Review] Yulchon Named to the GCR 100 for 16th Consecutive Year
- Chapter on Korea, “The Cartels and Leniency Review,” 5th Edition, Law Business Research (Co-author) (2017)
- A Study on Conditional Administrative-Agency Decisions, Where the Conditions Require Additional Consultation, Agreement, or Approval, Administrative Law Journal, vol. 48 (in Korean; 2017)
- What the Paris Agreement on Climate Change Means for Korea, IAKL 2016 Annual Conference Presentation (2016)