Diederik Schrijvershof has successfully represented several public transport companies in the formation of a joint venture by four large public transport providers. Those four companies, NS, GVB, HTM and RET, wished to set up a digital transport platform on which they themselves and third parties offer mobility services to travellers. Those mobility services help travellers plan, book and pay for trips from door to door and are known as Mobility as a Service (“MaaS”). MaaS providers combine on their own digital platforms several transport services (such as train, bus, metro, shared cars and shared bikes) and related services, such as travel information and payment services. NS, GVB, HTM and RET wish to set up a joint platform that technically connects transport providers and MaaS providers. NS, GVB, HTM and RET operate as transport providers (offering public transport services and, for instance, shared bikes). They furthermore are or wish to become MaaS providers.
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (“ACM”) has now given NS (Dutch Railways) and the municipal public transport companies in Amsterdam (GVB), The Hague (HTM) and Rotterdam (RET) permission to set up the aforesaid digital MaaS platform. According to ACM, it has attached strict conditions to that permission for the proposed joint venture. Those conditions must ensure that access to the MaaS platform for providers of mobility services is safeguarded and innovation is stimulated, but also that a level playing field is maintained. NS, GVB, HTM and RET (the “Parties”) have promised ACM certain remedies to remove competition objections, for instance. In that regard the Parties will:
- give other mobility providers and MaaS providers access to the platform on the same conditions, without demanding exclusivity;
- make their public transport services (travel by bus, tram, metro and train) available to MaaS providers regardless of whether they are affiliated with the platform, while applying the same conditions to all the providers involved; and
- ensure that mobility providers and MaaS providers (including the Parties themselves) cannot gain access to sensitive competitive information.
This is the second transaction within a one-year period in which ACM requires behaviour remedies on the part of the reporting parties with regard to data (and access to data) before approving the transaction. On 29 August 2019, for instance, ACM decided to attach conditions to the approval of the acquisition of Iddink Group by Sanoma Learning. Diederik Schrijvershof represented an interested third party in ACM’s (phase 2) investigation into Sanoma/Iddink. More information on that case can be found here.