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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Mario Strebel

Mario Strebel

CORE AttorneysTalacker 41ZurichSwitzerlandCH-8001
Watch interview with Mario Strebel

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Competition 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Mario Strebel is a “prominent figure” in the market, “highly recommended” by peers for his “impressive commitment to his cases” and his “professional, efficient, qualified and experienced advice”.

Questions & Answers

Mario is a founding partner of CORE Attorneys. He has extensive experience in his area of expertise that focuses on all aspects of competition law, regulatory matters and distribution law. Other areas of expertise include e-commerce and digital economy matters, general contract law including commercial disputes, unfair competition law, compliance, internal investigations and public procurement. Mario represents national and international clients from start-ups to multinational companies in all these areas of law. 

Which matters have you enjoyed working on the most in the past year?

In 2019, I advised and represented Sunrise Communications Group in a merger control proceeding with respect to the acquisition of UPC Switzerland from Liberty Global for an enterprise value of 6.3 billion Swiss francs: a substantial in-market consolidation in the Swiss telecommunications market. The matter is particularly noteworthy since it concerned a highly complex collective dominance assessment. Following an in-depth merger control examination, the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) cleared the transaction at the end of September 2019 without any remedies. Even though the shareholders did not finally approve the transaction in 2019, the unconditional clearance obtained from the COMCO must be considered a great success. As recently announced, against the background of largely unchanged market conditions, the COMCO also cleared the reverse transaction. 

What challenges do you face when advising clients on Swiss dominance issues? 

First, there are not that many dominance proceedings in Switzerland. Hence, the lack of comprehensive Swiss case law constitutes a certain challenge, even though the EU case law serves to some extent as a substitute. Dominance cases are, in any event, complex and usually involve vast amounts of information requiring in-depth analysis. However, from what I can see, the Swiss authorities and courts, respectively, increasingly apply a rather formalistic approach also in dominance matters, inter alia with regard to price differentiation or, just recently, to the disclosure of interface information. Under this approach that you might call a per se approach, certain conduct may be qualified illegal and subject to direct fines without examination of any actual effects on the relevant market(s). In my view, it is therefore all the more important to tell a credible, empirically founded story from the perspective of the client.

Is covid-19 and the corresponding economic downturn a time to halt acquisitions or pursue them?

Only time will tell. On first glance, one would expect that the slowdown in the global economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a decline in corporate transactions. In the beginning of the crisis with all the uncertainties that existed, this might have been accurate from what I have seen, since many transactions were put on hold or even abandoned. But this is likely to change again one way or another. In particular, the less quickly the economy recovers, the more transactions will implement restructuring measures, out of a need for efficiency gains, or must actually be qualified as rescue mergers. From a merger control point of view, it will therefore be interesting to see how the competition authorities apply the failing firm defence in this context, and whether there will be room for transactions that under normal circumstances would be cleared with remedies or even blocked.

In your opinion, who will be the winners and the losers due to the current difficult economic and M&A environment?

Again, only time will tell. Certainly, the immediate winners could be identified relatively quickly, eg, the manufacturers of face masks or disinfectants, for pointing out the obvious. The coronavirus pandemic will carry on driving digitisation, which is why the large tech giants and accessory suppliers will continue to benefit from eg home office arrangements that will probably last much longer, and the further implementation and upgrading of digital meetings. At the other end of the spectrum are airlines and other transport and tourism service providers for whom the market has literally collapsed because of the pandemic. I believe that in these industries, the pandemic will inevitably lead to heavy consolidation. However, I am convinced that also currently distressed companies that adapt to the online world and quickly implement the necessary measures to secure their economic success, inter alia, by cost savings, have a chance to come out of this crisis stronger than ever and might therefore be considered “winners” too. You see, there is no simple answer to this question. 

What issues do you think will be a priority for the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) in the next five years?

I expect cartel cases (horizontal agreements) and vertical agreements to remain COMCO’s main priority. In particular parallel trade bans that foreclose the Swiss market from the rest of Europe, for instance through online sales restrictions, and agreements that aim at maintaining a high price level in Switzerland, ie, through resale price maintenance, will most likely continue to be at the centre of attention. Also, highly consolidated industries could face more competition-law scrutiny. Moreover, should the Fair-Price-Initiative be adopted, which seems likely at present, the COMCO will face challenging questions regarding the implementation of the corresponding provisions and its resource planning.

What motivated you to open your own firm, CORE Attorneys?

The main motivation was certainly the wish to put the clients and their needs back to the very centre of our activities, and to establish a law firm that truly reflects our values. While guaranteeing the same quality level as a big law firm, we believe that the lean, flexible and entrepreneurial set-up of a law boutique allows us to dedicate ourselves even more rigorously and with even greater focus to the cause of our clients. Furthermore, there is in our view momentum in the Swiss market for a law boutique that focuses on competition law, regulatory and distribution law. Besides, it is simply something great to have your own law firm. This has always been a dream of mine, which I was able to realise together with my long-time companion Fabian Koch. 

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

The best pieces of career advice I have ever received might be summarised as follows: First, gain as much experience as possible in various positions, ie, in private practice, as an in-house lawyer and with the authorities and/or courts. Second, be hungry, curious and seize the opportunities whenever they present themselves to you!

WWL says

Mario Strebel is a “prominent figure” in the market, “highly recommended” by peers for his “impressive commitment to his cases” and his “professional, efficient, qualified and experienced advice”.

Questions & Answers

Mario is a founding partner of CORE Attorneys. He has extensive experience in his area of expertise that focuses on all aspects of competition law, regulatory matters and distribution law. Other areas of expertise include e-commerce and digital economy matters, general contract law including commercial disputes, unfair competition law, compliance, internal investigations and public procurement. Mario represents national and international clients from start-up to multinational companies in all these areas of law. 

Which matters have you enjoyed working on the most in the past year?

In 2019, I advised and represented Sunrise Communications Group in a merger control proceeding with respect to the acquisition of UPC Switzerland from Liberty Global for an enterprise value of 6.3 billion Swiss francs: a substantial in-market consolidation in the Swiss telecommunications market. The matter is particularly noteworthy since it concerned a highly complex collective dominance assessment. Following an in-depth merger control examination, the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) cleared the transaction at the end of September 2019 without any remedies. Even though the shareholders finally did not approve the transaction in 2019, the unconditional clearance obtained from COMCO must be considered a great success. As recently announced, Liberty Global aims now at acquiring Sunrise and it will be interesting to see how the authorities will assess such reverse transaction. 

What challenges do you face when advising clients on Swiss dominance issues? 

First, there are not that many dominance proceedings in Switzerland. Hence, the lack of comprehensive Swiss case law constitutes a certain challenge, even though the EU case law serves to some extent as a substitute. Dominance cases are in any event complex and usually involve vast amounts of information requiring in-depth analysis. However, from what we can see, the Swiss authorities and courts, respectively, more and more apply a rather formalistic approach also in dominance matters, inter alia with regard to price differentiation or, just recently, to the disclosure of interface information. Under this approach that you might call a per se approach, a certain conduct may be qualified illegal and subject to direct fines without examination of any actual effects on the relevant market(s). In my view, it is therefore all the more important to tell a credible, empirically founded story from the perspective of the client.

Is covid-19 and the corresponding economic downturn a time to halt acquisitions or pursue them?

Only time will tell. At first sight, one would expect that the slowdown in the global economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a decline in corporate transactions. In the beginning of the crisis with all uncertainties that existed, this might have been accurate from what we have seen since many transactions were put on hold or even abandoned. But this is likely to change again one way or another. In particular, the less quickly the economy recovers, the more transactions will implement restructuring measures, come out of a need for efficiency gains or must actually be qualified as rescue mergers. From a merger control point of view, it will therefore be interesting to see how the competition authorities apply the failing firm defence in this context and whether there will be room for transactions that under normal circumstances would be cleared with remedies or even blocked.

In your opinion, who will be the winners and the losers due to the current difficult economic and M&A environment?

Again, only time will tell. Certainly, the immediate winners could be identified relatively quickly, e.g. the manufacturers of face masks or disinfectants, for pointing out the obvious. The coronavirus pandemic will carry on driving digitisation, which is why the large tech giants and accessory suppliers will continue to benefit, e.g. only already due to home office arrangements that will probably last much longer and the further implementation and upgrading of digital meetings. At the other end of the spectrum are airlines and other transport and tourism service providers for which the market has literally collapsed because of the pandemic. I believe that in these industries, the pandemic will inevitably lead to a heavy consolidation. However, I am convinced that also currently distressed companies that adapt to the online world and quickly implement the necessary measures to secure their economic success, inter alia by cost savings, have a chance to come out of this crisis stronger than ever and might therefore be considered “winners” too. You see that there is no simple answer to this question. 

What issues do you think will be a priority for the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) in the next five years?

I expect cartel cases (horizontal agreements) and vertical agreements to remain COMCO’s main priority. In particular parallel trade bans that foreclose the Swiss market from the rest of Europe, for instance through online sales restrictions, and agreements that aim at maintaining a high price level in Switzerland, i.e. through resale price maintenance (RPM), will most likely continue to be at the centre of attention. Also, highly consolidated industries could face more competition law scrutiny. Moreover, should the so called “Fair-Price-Initiative” be adopted, which seems likely at present, the COMCO will face challenging questions regarding the implementation of the corresponding provisions and its resource planning.

What motivated you to open your own firm, CORE Attorneys?

The main motivation was certainly our wish to put the clients and their needs back to the very centre of our activities and to establish a law firm that truly reflects our values. While guaranteeing the same quality level as a big law firm, we believe that the lean, flexible and entrepreneurial set-up of a law boutique allows us to dedicate ourselves even more rigorously and with even greater focus to the cause of our clients. Furthermore, there is in our view momentum in the Swiss market for a law boutique that focuses on competition law, regulatory and distribution law. Besides, it is simply something great to have your own law firm. This has always been a dream of mine, which I was able to realise together with my long-time companion Fabian Koch. 

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

The best pieces of career advice I have ever received might be summarised as follows: First, gain as much experience as possible in various positions, i.e. in private practice, as an in-house lawyer and with the authorities and/or courts. Second, be hungry, curious and seize the opportunities whenever they present themselves to you!

Global Leader

Competition 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mario Strebel is an impressive competition specialist in the Swiss market, and peers say he is "highly recommended" and "dynamic with great dedication to his cases".  

Peers and clients say:
"Mario always has a business and solution-oriented approach."
"Mr Strebel has great enthusiasm, creativity, and an excellent knowledge of relevant case law."
"He is a very responsive and experienced competition lawyer with broad knowledge."

Biography

Mario is a founding partner of CORE Attorneys. He has extensive experience in his area of expertise that focuses on all aspects of competition law, regulatory matters and distribution law. Other areas of expertise include e-commerce and digital economy matters, general contract law including commercial disputes, unfair competition law, compliance, internal investigations and public procurement. Mario represents national and international clients from start-up to multinational companies in all these areas of law.

He regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on these topics, including compliance seminars and dawn-raid workshops. Other areas of his practice include telecom regulation, public procurement and internal investigations.

Mario obtained a master’s in law from the University of Zurich in 2003 and a postgraduate degree from Kings College London in 2012 (LLM in competition law). He was admitted to the Bar in Switzerland in 2008 and is a member of the Swiss and Zurich Bar Association, the competition law group of the Zurich Bar Association as well as the chairman of the Swiss working group of the Study Association for Competition Law (Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV). Mario is a listed expert with the Swiss Franchise Association and a neutral arbitrator with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. His professional career began as a part-time associate of a globally active construction material company from 2001 to 2003 and a scientific collaborator with the secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission from 2004 to 2005.

National Leader

Switzerland - Competition 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mario Strebel is a “prominent figure” in the market, “highly recommended” by peers for his “impressive commitment to his cases” and his “professional, efficient, qualified and experienced advice”.

Biography

Mario is a founding partner of CORE Attorneys. He has extensive experience in his area of expertise that focuses on all aspects of competition law, regulatory matters and distribution law. Other areas of expertise include e-commerce and digital economy matters, general contract law including commercial disputes, unfair competition law, compliance, internal investigations and public procurement. Mario represents national and international clients from start-up to multinational companies in all these areas of law.

He regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on these topics, including compliance seminars and dawn-raid workshops. Other areas of his practice include telecom regulation, public procurement and internal investigations.

Mario obtained a master’s in law from the University of Zurich in 2003 and a postgraduate degree from Kings College London in 2012 (LLM in competition law). He was admitted to the Bar in Switzerland in 2008 and is a member of the Swiss and Zurich Bar Association, the competition law group of the Zurich Bar Association as well as the chairman of the Swiss working group of the Study Association for Competition Law (Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV). Mario is a listed expert with the Swiss Franchise Association and a neutral arbitrator with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. His professional career began as a part-time associate of a globally active construction material company from 2001 to 2003 and a scientific collaborator with the secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission from 2004 to 2005.

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