image of Mihkel WildingMihkel Wilding

Clayton Utz Partner , Sydney T +61 2 9353 5814 https://www.claytonutz.com

Valued by clients as “an exceptionally good team player” with a “good manner”, who is “intellectually agile” and “able to judge the [business] audience”, Mihkel is recognised as one of the leaders of the next generation of competition partners, regularly working with businesses on their most complex matters.

He advises on all areas of competition and consumer law – including investigations, litigation, merger clearance, contract structuring and joint ventures, channel management, and the Australian Consumer Law (in particular business advertising) – with a focus on the retail/FMCG, life sciences, digital and social media, and gaming and wagering sectors.

Clients benefit from Mihkel's strong relationships and experience in engaging with regulators such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and DIRDAC (automotive vehicle compliance), which ensures there is clarity and swift resolution of their dealings with each other.

Mihkel's domestic and UK/EU experience working on cross-border matters, such as merger clearances, cartel defence matters (including immunity applications), and competition litigation, has given him a strong understanding of how Australia fits into clients' imperatives and international strategy, and informs his merger clearance advice.

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Expertise

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Competition

Digital

Confidential: Mihkel acts in Federal Court litigation commenced by an app developer offering services a platform alleging breach of contract as well as ACL and competition contraventions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

Nuance Communications, Inc: Nuance is a supplier of software solutions for automated speech recognition powered by artificial intelligence. Mihkel obtained ACCC clearance on the Australian competition aspects of its US$19.7bn sale to Microsoft.

Online marketplaces: Mihkel advises a range of clients on their setting up of online marketplaces to ensure compliance with the Australian regulatory regime, including its competition laws and the Australian Consumer Law.

humm Group: Mihkel acted for ASX-listed Humm (formerly flexigroup) to successfully oppose the ACCC's determination to authorise an industry code in the new energy technology and finance sectors, in review proceedings in the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Tatts Group: Mihkel was a key senior team member involved in obtaining merger authorisation from the Australian Competition Tribunal (via the Federal Court of Australia) in order for Tabcorp Limited's acquisition of Tatts Group Limited to proceed via a Scheme of Arrangement. This was one of the largest and most complex Australian deals in 2017.

Freeware, cross-platform messaging and VOIP provider: Mihkel acted in an ACCC investigation under the Australian Consumer Law alleging false or misleading representations, unconscionability and unfair contracts in updated user contracts and privacy policies.

nbn co: Mihkel advised in relation to the variation of nbn's Special Access Undertaking given to the ACCC.

nbn co: Mihkel acted in relation to successful ACCC authorisation of provisions of an agreement between nbn co and SingTel Optus Pty Ltd and other Optus entities to migrate Optus' hybrid fibre-coaxial cable subscribers to the national broadband network, and nbn co's acquisition of certain assets from SingTel Optus.


Healthcare and life sciences

Council of Procedural Specialists: Mihkel advised COPS in its opposition to a health fund application for collective bargaining authorisation.

Medicines Australia: Mihkel recently acted for Medicines Australia, Australia's peak industry representative for Big Pharma, in respect of its ACCC authorisation to permit members to co-ordinate in relation to potential supply shortages as a result of COVID-19. He is currently also assisting members in relation to competition issues associated with PBAC applications to approve combination medicines to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Mihkel also regularly provides Medicines Australia with competition law training.

Novartis AG: Mihkel advised Novartis AG in relation to the Australian Consumer Law proceedings against another pharmaceutical company in relation to the drug Voltaren (acquired by the manufacturer the subject of the proceedings).

Pharmaceutical: Adviser to pharmaceutical clients across a range of competition (eg. late life cycle strategies, combination medicines, joint ventures, structuring of supply and distribution agreements).


Retail

Banking client – confidential: Mihkel acted in relation to the ACCC's market study inquiry into price of residential mortgage products.

Woolworths Group Limited: Mihkel has been providing competition and consumer advice to Woolworths for over 15 years, including on regulatory inquiries, investigations and Federal Court litigation. Most recently, he advised Woolworths in relation to its alliance with Caltex and subsequent sale $1.7bn of its petrol business to EG Group. He also recently acted for Woolworths to obtain informal merger clearance from the ACCC for its proposed acquisition of a 65% interest in the food services business, PFD Food Services Pty Limited.

Endeavour Group: Mihkel is advising ASX-listed Endeavour Group in relation to regulatory engagement about its liquor business.


Other corporate clients

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co: Mihkel advised Gallagher on its proposed acquisition of certain Australian assets as part of a global remedies package to allow the proposed Aon/Willis Towers insurance and brokerage transaction to proceed.

OEM: Mihkel acted for a manufacturer of aircraft engines in relation to a potential transaction involving diesel engines used to generate electricity.

Mitsubishi Corporation: Mihkel advised on information sharing issues among entities to coal joint ventures, and advised on corporate structuring and joint venture proposals under competition law. He also assisted Mitsubishi to prepare its Competition Law Handbook following the Harper competition law reforms (in particular the introduction of a concerted practices prohibition).

See Competition

Merger Clearance

Nuance Communications, Inc: Nuance is a supplier of software solutions for automated speech recognition powered by artificial intelligence. Mihkel obtained ACCC clearance on the Australian competition aspects of its US$19.7bn sale to Microsoft.

Woolworths Group Limited: Mihkel has been providing competition and consumer advice to Woolworths for over 15 years, including on regulatory inquiries, investigations and Federal Court litigation. He advised Woolworths in relation to its alliance with Caltex and subsequent sale $1.7bn of its petrol business to EG Group. He also recently acted for Woolworths to obtain informal merger clearance from the ACCC for its proposed acquisition of a 65% interest in the food services business, PFD Food Services Pty Limited.

Tatts Group: Mihkel was a key senior team member involved in obtaining merger authorisation from the Australian Competition Tribunal (via the Federal Court of Australia) in order for Tabcorp Limited's acquisition of Tatts Group Limited to proceed via a Scheme of Arrangement. This was one of the largest and most complex Australian deals in 2017.

Retail acquisitions: Mihkel has acted on various retail acquisitions in the supermarkets, liquor, discount department store, book retailing and hardware sectors.

OEM: Mihkel acted for a manufacturer of aircraft engines in relation to a potential transaction involving diesel engines used to generate electricity.

Pathology: Mihkel advised on various transactions concerning the provision of imaging, diagnostic and other pathology services.

See Merger Clearance

Competition law enforcement, cartels and dawn raids

Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct: Mihkel acts for foreign and domestic companies seeking "first in" leniency (including co-ordinating across multiple jurisdictions with foreign law firms).

Korean Air Lines Co Limited: Mihkel acted in relation to what was reported to be the world's largest cartel investigation, involving co-ordinated investigations by anti-trust agencies in several major jurisdictions in relation to air freight services. He also acted in the parallel class action litigation in the Federal Court of Australia.

Nexans SA: Mihkel acted for one of world's top energy, communications and cable companies in successful defence of ACCC enforcement action alleging cartel conduct.

Penalty proceedings – ACCC defence work: Mihkel advises on Part IV penalty proceedings in relation to price fixing, market sharing, boycotts, including:

  • cartel conduct in air cargo
  • cartel conduct in financial services sector
  • cartel conduct in high voltage cables
  • cartel conduct in automotive components
  • cartel conduct in laundry detergent
  • cartel conduct in retail fuel
  • price fixing in A4 copy paper

Telecommunications carriage service provider: Mihkel acted in pecuniary penalty proceedings brought by the ACCC in the Federal Court of Australia alleging contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law in respect of certain misrepresentations to consumers in relation to the disconnection of internet services, and certain automated billing services.

Competition law enforcement, cartels and dawn raids

Australian Consumer Law

Automotive: Mihkel acted in the regulatory investigation phase and Federal Court litigation in relation to diesel emissions issues.

FMCG and retail entities: Mihkel acts for a range of well recognised domestic and overseas retail and consumer brands on competition and consumer law issues associated with the operation of their bricks and mortar and online stores eg, joint ventures partnerships and alliances, distribution models and channel management strategies.

Freeware, cross-platform messaging and VOIP provider: Mihkel acted for the domestic arm of a multinational provider of these services in relation to an ACCC investigation under the Australian Consumer Law.

Novartis AG: Mihkel advised Novartis AG in relation to the Australian Consumer Law proceedings against another pharmaceutical company in relation to the over the counter drug Voltaren (acquired by the manufacturer the subject of the proceedings).

Optus Australia Pty Limited: Mihkel was a key contributor to recent litigation successes against Telstra in the Empires End/P3 case (brought by Telstra against Optus) and the Unlimited case (brought by Optus against Telstra, both cases concerning claims of false, misleading or deceptive conduct (Empires End, and Unlimited). He also advised Optus in a significant Spam Act investigation by ACMA and in consumer law investigations and enforcement brought by the ACCC.

Porsche Cars Australia: Mihkel gives corporate advisory, dealership, franchise, consumer and compliance advice.

See Australian Consumer Law

Digital Economy

Large Online Platform: Mihkel is acting for a large platform in Federal Court litigation commenced by an app developer offering services on the platform alleging breach of contract as well as ACL and competition contraventions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

Nuance Communications, Inc: Nuance is a supplier of software solutions for automated speech recognition powered by artificial intelligence. Mihkel obtained ACCC clearance on the Australian competition aspects of its US$19.7bn sale to Microsoft.

Online marketplaces: Mihkel advises a range of clients on their setting up of online marketplaces to ensure compliance with the Australian regulatory regime, including its competition laws and the Australian Consumer Law.

humm Group: Mihkel acted for ASX-listed Humm (formerly flexigroup) to successfully oppose the ACCC's determination to authorise an industry code in the new energy technology and finance sectors, in review proceedings in the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Tatts Group: Mihkel was a key senior team member involved in obtaining merger authorisation from the Australian Competition Tribunal (via the Federal Court of Australia) in order for Tabcorp Limited's acquisition of Tatts Group Limited to proceed via a Scheme of Arrangement. This was one of the largest and most complex Australian deals in 2017.

Freeware, cross-platform messaging and VOIP provider: Mihkel acted in an ACCC investigation under the Australian Consumer Law alleging false or misleading representations, unconscionability and unfair contracts in updated user contracts.

See Digital Economy

Investigations and Crisis Management

Automotive: Mihkel acted in the regulatory investigation phase and Federal Court litigation in relation to diesel emissions issues.

Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct: Mihkel acts for foreign and domestic companies seeking "first in" leniency (including co-ordinating approaches with foreign law firms in multiple jurisdictions).

See Investigations and Crisis Management

Advertising and Marketing

FMCG entities: Mihkel acts for a range of well recognised domestic and overseas consumer brands on competition and consumer law issues associated with the operation of their bricks and mortar and online stores, and distribution models in Australia (including online marketplaces).

Novartis AG: Mihkel advised Novartis AG in relation to the Australian Consumer Law proceedings against another pharmaceutical company in relation to the over the counter drug Voltaren (acquired by the manufacturer the subject of the proceedings).

Optus Australia Pty Limited: Mihkel was a key senior team member in recent litigation successes against Telstra in the Empires End/P3 case (brought by Telstra against Optus) and the Unlimited case (brought by Optus against Telstra, both cases concerning claims of false, misleading or deceptive conduct (Empires End, and Unlimited).

Woolworths Group Limited: Mihkel has been Woolworths' adviser for over 15 years on consumer law issues such as false, misleading or deceptive conduct, unfair contracts, unconscionability, the consumer guarantees and product recalls/ safety.

See Advertising and Marketing

Healthcare and Life Sciences

Council of Procedural Specialists: Mihkel advised COPS in its opposition to a health fund application for collective bargaining authorisation.

Medicines Australia: Mihkel recently acted for Medicines Australia, Australia's peak industry representative for Big Pharma, in respect of its ACCC authorisation to permit members to co-ordinate in relation to potential supply shortages as a result of COVID-19. He also assists members in relation to competition issues associated with PBAC applications to approve combination medicines to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. He also regularly provides Medicines Australia with competition law training.

Novartis AG: Mihkel advised in relation to the Australian Consumer Law proceedings against another pharmaceutical company in relation to the drug Voltaren (acquired by the manufacturer the subject of the proceedings).

Pathology: Mihkel advised on various transactions concerning the provision of imaging, diagnostic and other pathology services.

Pharmaceutical – general: Mihkel advises key pharmaceutical clients of the firm on their supply, distribution and structuring arrangements with competitors, as well as late life cycle issues associated with patent expiry and looming generic entry. The legal and regulatory landscape in respect of combination medicines in a special interest area for Mihkel.

See Healthcare and Life Sciences

Telecommunications, Media and Technology

Confidential: Mihkel acts in Federal Court litigation commenced by an app developer offering services a platform alleging breach of contract as well as ACL and competition contraventions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

Freeware, cross-platform messaging and VOIP provider: Mihkel acted in an ACCC investigation under the Australian Consumer Law alleging false or misleading representations, unconscionability and unfair contracts in updated user contracts and privacy policies.

Instant messaging app: Mihkel acted in an ACCC investigation under the Australian Consumer Law alleging false or misleading representations, unconscionability and unfair contracts in updated user contracts and privacy policies.

nbn co: Mihkel advised on the variation of nbn's Special Access Undertaking given to the ACCC.

nbn co: Mihkel acted in relation to successful ACCC authorisation of provisions of an agreement between nbn co and SingTel Optus Pty Ltd and other Optus entities to migrate Optus' hybrid fibre-coaxial cable subscribers to the national broadband network, and nbn co's acquisition of certain assets from Singtel Optus.

Nuance Communications, Inc: Nuance is a supplier of software solutions for automated speech recognition powered by artificial intelligence. Mihkel obtained ACCC clearance on the Australian competition aspects of its US$19.7bn sale to Microsoft.

Online marketplaces: Mihkel has advised a range of clients on their setting up of online marketplaces to ensure compliance with the Australian regulatory regime, including its competition laws and the Australian Consumer Law.

SingTel Optus/ Optus: Mihkel was a key senior team member in recent litigation successes against Telstra in the Empires End/P3 case (brought by Telstra against Optus) and the Unlimited case (brought by Optus against Telstra, both cases concerning claims of false, misleading or deceptive conduct (Empires End, and Unlimited). He has also advised Optus in a significant Spam Act investigation by ACMA and in consumer law investigations and enforcement brought by the ACCC.

See Telecommunications, Media and Technology

Leisure and Entertainment

Flutter Entertainment plc: Mihkel advised on ACCC merger clearance in relation to Flutter Entertainment's acquisition of the Stars Group which saw Flutter, the owner of the SportsBet wagering brand, acquire the BetEasy wagering business in Australia.

Phoenix CS Limited: Mihkel acted in relation to the provision of regulatory wagering advice about offshore operations.

Tatts Group: Mihkel was a key senior team member involved in obtaining obtaining merger authorisation from the Australian Competition Tribunal (via the Federal Court of Australia) in order for the Tabcorp Limited's acquisition of Tatts Group Limited to proceed via a Scheme of Arrangement. This was one of the largest and most complex Australian deals in 2017.

See Leisure and Entertainment

Franchising

Volvo Cars: Mihkel advises on commercial and legal issues facing the business, including under the Australian Consumer Law and Franchising Code, dealership and regulatory issues. He also advises on general corporate matters.

See Franchising

Knowledge

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