The Serbian national competition authority (NCA) – the Commission for Protection of Competition – has announced it has started a gun-jumping investigation against Fortenova Group. The Serbian NCA is probing whether Fortenova acquired control of Agrokor’s assets without notifying the transaction in the merger control procedure.

In a statement published on its website, the NCA noted that, during the course of the probe, it will establish who exercises control of Fortenova, whether this transaction represents a permissible concentration in accordance with the Serbian Competition Act, and, ultimately, whether Fortenova in this case acted in compliance with the Serbian competition law.

Fortenova started with operations this year, taking over the assets of the troubled conglomerate Agrokor. In Serbia, Fortenova controls substantial assets, including companies active in several food-related sectors.

The Serbian competition law prescribes for a standstill obligation and notifiable concentrations cannot be implemented without a prior clearance from the NCA.

If an undertaking jumps the gun and implements a notifiable concentration without the NCA’s green light, it may face a fine of up to 10% of its Serbian turnover. The Serbian NCA has so far imposed a fine for gun jumping on one occasion, in a case where the parties failed to notify a change from joint to sole control of a Serbian company (please see here).

The NCA has invited interested parties to submit their comments.