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Experience of the Serbian CPC
in detecting concerted practice
in non-bidding markets
(without relying on leniency, whistleblower
programs, sophisticated software or cooperation
with other public authorities)
OECD Global Forum on Competition
Alternatives To Leniency Programmes
Paris, 7.12.2023.
Maja Dobrić*
Senior Adviser, Restrictive Practices Division, Commission for Protection of
Competition, Serbia
*The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the institution
Premises of the screening method
 Applied in oligopolistic markets and can potentially
differentiate between tacit collusion and concerted
practice.
 From the perspective of undertakings:
 Engaging in cartels is a business decision (like any
other).
 Decisions are made by managers trained to solve
problems efficiently.
 Collusion eliminates the risks of market uncertainty
and can stabilize the market in crisis.
 Cartels are fast and efficient “solutions” to market
problems.
To find the “solution”, look for the problem it was
trying to solve.
Structure of the screen
 The screen has two parts:
 Structural part - market conditions conducive
to collusion
 Behavioural part - three sets of indicators:
 Did the market have different dynamics before
the period of potentially collusive stability?
 Put the data in a (linear) timeframe
 Expand the period of observed data as much as
possible.
Cartel “triggering”
events
(cause/problem)
“the space in
between”
(contact, how the
problem was solved)
Cartel symptoms
(outcome/solution)
Initiation of the “Coffee” case* in Serbia
* The case was initiated in September 2021 and is still ongoing in December
2023.
 The CPC analysed publicly available information
 press releases – on the likelihood of price changes
 financial reports (description on doing business in
Serbia) - significant change in the profitability of one
of the observed companies which did not correspond to
the market conditions explained in the same report.
 Economic analysis prior to initiation
 Public statement: “raw coffee makes up for 90% of the
production costs”
 The CPC compared the changes of retail prices with
changes of prices of raw coffee on the global
commodities market. The analysis showed that the
prices movement in Serbia are not driven by price
changes in the global raw coffee market.
Transferring the method to technology-
led screening – future plans
 Overall idea: flag potential markets where
collusion could arise and monitor for signs of
potential collusion in these markets as it arises
 Identify (oligopolistic) markets with past or current
“triggering events” + monitor for symptoms as they
arise
 Step 1: expand the indicative list of events and
patterns in each part of the screen
 Step 2: adapting the screen to a digital tool - a
software solution which would scan publicly
available information.
Expected impact: a credible threat of detection to
incentivise leniency.

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Alternatives to Leniency Programmes – SERBIA – December 2023 OECD discussion

  • 1. Experience of the Serbian CPC in detecting concerted practice in non-bidding markets (without relying on leniency, whistleblower programs, sophisticated software or cooperation with other public authorities) OECD Global Forum on Competition Alternatives To Leniency Programmes Paris, 7.12.2023. Maja Dobrić* Senior Adviser, Restrictive Practices Division, Commission for Protection of Competition, Serbia *The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the institution
  • 2. Premises of the screening method  Applied in oligopolistic markets and can potentially differentiate between tacit collusion and concerted practice.  From the perspective of undertakings:  Engaging in cartels is a business decision (like any other).  Decisions are made by managers trained to solve problems efficiently.  Collusion eliminates the risks of market uncertainty and can stabilize the market in crisis.  Cartels are fast and efficient “solutions” to market problems. To find the “solution”, look for the problem it was trying to solve.
  • 3. Structure of the screen  The screen has two parts:  Structural part - market conditions conducive to collusion  Behavioural part - three sets of indicators:  Did the market have different dynamics before the period of potentially collusive stability?  Put the data in a (linear) timeframe  Expand the period of observed data as much as possible. Cartel “triggering” events (cause/problem) “the space in between” (contact, how the problem was solved) Cartel symptoms (outcome/solution)
  • 4. Initiation of the “Coffee” case* in Serbia * The case was initiated in September 2021 and is still ongoing in December 2023.  The CPC analysed publicly available information  press releases – on the likelihood of price changes  financial reports (description on doing business in Serbia) - significant change in the profitability of one of the observed companies which did not correspond to the market conditions explained in the same report.  Economic analysis prior to initiation  Public statement: “raw coffee makes up for 90% of the production costs”  The CPC compared the changes of retail prices with changes of prices of raw coffee on the global commodities market. The analysis showed that the prices movement in Serbia are not driven by price changes in the global raw coffee market.
  • 5. Transferring the method to technology- led screening – future plans  Overall idea: flag potential markets where collusion could arise and monitor for signs of potential collusion in these markets as it arises  Identify (oligopolistic) markets with past or current “triggering events” + monitor for symptoms as they arise  Step 1: expand the indicative list of events and patterns in each part of the screen  Step 2: adapting the screen to a digital tool - a software solution which would scan publicly available information. Expected impact: a credible threat of detection to incentivise leniency.