May 22, 2017

The Antitrust Week In Review

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

EU Fines Facebook 110 mln euros over WhatsApp deal.  European Union antitrust regulators fined Facebook 110 million euros ($122 million) on Thursday for giving misleading information during a vetting of its deal to acquire messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.  Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine,” the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Facebook had said it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and WhatsApp, but two years later launched a service that did exactly that.

Tronc in Talks with Wrapports to Acquire Chicago Sun-Times.  Two longtime newspaper rivals in the once highly competitive Chicago market may end with the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times by the owner of the Chicago Tribune, which has grabbed the attention of the U.S. Justice Department Monday.  Chicago-based Wrapports LLC announced in a statement it has agreed to enter into discussions with Tronc Inc., owner of several major newspapers, after failing to interest other media companies in acquiring the Sun-Times.

HSBC Settles Bondholders’ Claims of Libor Manipulation.  HSBC Holdings Plc has settled claims by a group of U.S. bondholders that it conspired with rivals to rig the Libor benchmark interest rate, according to a New York court filing by the bondholders’ attorneys.  The filing did not disclose the terms of the settlement, which it said must be approved by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan federal court.

Antitrust: Commission Opens Formal Investigation into Aspen Pharma’s Pricing Practices for Cancer Medicines.  The European Commission has opened a formal investigation into concerns that Aspen Pharma has engaged in excessive pricing concerning five life-saving cancer medicines.  The Commission will investigate whether Aspen has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.

Merck, Upsher-Smith to Pay $60 mln in ‘Pay-for-Delay’ Drug Case.  Merck & Co Inc and Upsher-Smith Laboratories Inc. have agreed to pay $60.2 million to resolve a lawsuit that said they entered into a deal to unlawfully delay the availability of generic versions of potassium supplement K-Dur.  The settlement, disclosed in papers filed in federal court in Newark, came in a class action filed in 2001 arising out of a settlement in patent litigation between Upsher-Smith and Schering-Plough Corp, now owned by Merck.  That patent deal, plaintiffs in the antitrust class action said, was an example of a “pay-for-delay” settlement, in which brand-name drug makers pay generic companies to keep their products off the market for a longer period.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, General, International Competition Issues

    May 15, 2017

    The Antitrust Week In Review

    Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

    Anthem Gives Up Cigna Bid, Vows to Fight on Over Damages.  Anthem has ended its soured, $48 billion bid to buy rival Cigna, but the nation’s second-largest health insurer isn’t giving up a fight over whether Cigna deserves a termination fee for the scrapped deal.  Anthem said Friday that Cigna sabotaged the merger agreement and caused “massive damages” for Anthem, which provides Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage in several states.  Indianapolis-based Anthem announced its decision a day after a Delaware judge refused its request to extend a ban blocking Cigna from pulling out of the deal.  The deal, announced in 2015, had already been rejected by a federal judge and an appeals court after antitrust regulators sued last summer to stop it. Anthem Inc. said last week that it would seek a Supreme Court review of the case.

    EU to Launch More E-commerce Antitrust Investigations.  The European Union plans to launch more antitrust investigations into e-commerce companies after a two-year inquiry uncovered business practices that restrict competition, the European Commission said on Wednesday.  In its report on the initial inquiry, the EU executive said it had found an increased use of contractual restrictions to control product distribution, which could be in breach of EU antitrust rules.  “Certain practices by companies in e-commerce markets may restrict competition by unduly limiting how products are distributed throughout the EU,” Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

    Bumble Bee Foods Fined $25 Million, Admits Price Fixing.  Tuna-canning company Bumble Bee Foods has agreed to pay a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to conspiring with competitors to fix prices, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.  The San Diego-based company will also cooperate with an ongoing antitrust investigation into the packaged seafood industry, the federal agency said.  The fine will increase to $81.5 million if the company is sold.  The criminal charge reflects broader concerns about competition within the industry.

    Trump U.S. Antitrust Nominee Says will be Independent of White House.  Makan Delrahim, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to be the top U.S. antitrust regulator, said on Wednesday that he would maintain independence from the White House in enforcing antitrust law.  The Senate must still vote to confirm Delrahim.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

      May 8, 2017

      The Antitrust Week In Review

      Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

      EU Accepts Amazon E-book Commitments to Settle Antitrust Case.  The European Commission said on Thursday it had accepted commitments by U.S. online retailer Amazon to alter its e-book contracts with publishers to end an EU antitrust investigation.  Amazon, the biggest e-book distributor in Europe, proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts so publishers would not be forced to give it terms as good as those for rivals.  Such clauses relate to business models, release dates, catalogues of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency prices, agency commissions and wholesale prices.

      Generic Drugmakers Want Antitrust Lawsuit Dismissed.  Six generic drugmakers are asking a federal judge in Connecticut to dismiss a 40-state lawsuit accusing them of artificially inflating and manipulating prices to reduce competition for antibiotic and oral diabetes medication.  The companies filed documents Monday citing a variety of reasons including that the states failed to adequately allege deceptive conduct and that the states lack standing to sue on behalf of their citizens.  The companies include Heritage Pharmaceuticals of Eatontown, New Jersey; Aurobindo Pharma USA of East Windsor, New Jersey; Citron Pharma of East Brunswick, New Jersey; Mayne Pharma USA of Raleigh, North Carolina; Mylan Pharmaceuticals of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA of North Wales, Pennsylvania.

      EU Regulators to Rule on $38 bln Qualcomm, NXP Deal by June 9.  EU antitrust regulators will decide by June 9 whether to clear smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm’s $38 billion bid for NXP Semiconductors NV, which would make it the leading supplier to the fast-growing automotive chips market.  Qualcomm, which provides chips to Android smartphone makers and Apple Inc., sought EU approval for the deal on April 28, a filing on the European Commission website showed on Monday.  The EU competition enforcer can either approve the deal with or without concessions or it can open an investigation lasting about five months if it has serious concerns.

      Dow Merger with DuPont Gets Positive Antitrust Review in Brazil.  The planned merger of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont received a recommendation for a conditional approval by Cade, Brazil’s antitrust regulator, after a finding that proposed asset sales would be enough to address competitive concerns, the regulator said in an emailed statement on Friday.  Following the review by the office of Cade’s superintendent, the regulator’s board will vote on the $130 billion merger between the U.S. chemical giants, which clinched approval from the European Union in March after they agreed to sell substantial assets.  On Tuesday, China conditionally approved the deal, which is also pending regulatory approval in the United States, Australia and Canada.

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        May 1, 2017

        The Antitrust Week In Review

        Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following

        U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Anthem Bid to Merge with Rival Cigna.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday blocked health insurer Anthem Inc.’s bid to merge with Cigna, upholding a lower court’s decision that the $54 billion deal should not be allowed because it would lead to higher prices for healthcare.  The ruling will probably kill the proposed merger, which was opposed by the U.S. Justice Department, 11 states and a District Court judge after consumers, medical professionals and others objected to it.  In the end, Cigna itself tried to back out.  Still, Anthem and Cigna have the option of trying to save the deal by asking the appeals court to re-consider the case or appealing straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

        How Trump’s Pick for Top Antitrust Cop May Shape Competition.  Makan Delrahim, the nominee for chief antitrust cop at the Justice Department, was 10 when his family immigrated to the United States from Iran as Jewish political refugees.  Unable to speak English, he struggled to keep up in school. He worked afternoons and weekends at his father’s gas station near Los Angeles until college.  As a young Senate staff member years later, Mr. Delrahim found those early experiences had laid the foundation for his conservative views.

        Sanofi Files U.S. Antitrust Lawsuit Against Mylan Over EpiPen.  France’s Sanofi SA on Monday sued Mylan NV, accusing the pharmaceutical company of engaging in illegal conduct to squelch competition to its EpiPen allergy treatment, which has been at the center of a public debate over drug prices.  In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, Sanofi said Mylan caused it to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in sales by erecting barriers to U.S. consumers’ access to and use of a rival product, Auvi-Q.  In particular, Sanofi said Mylan offered rebates to insurers, pharmaceutical benefit managers and state Medicaid agencies conditioned on Auvi-Q not being an epinephrine auto-injector device they would reimburse for use by consumers.

        FTC Allows Sycamore to Sell Family Dollar Stores to Dollar General.  The Federal Trade Commission gave a private equity firm approval on Thursday to sell to Dollar General Corp 323 stores that Sycamore purchased as part of a divestiture package two years ago, the agency said on Thursday.  Sycamore Partners II, LP bought the stores in 2015 when Dollar Tree was forced to sell shops in 35 states to win antitrust approval to buy the Family Dollar chain in what was then a $9.2 billion deal.  Sycamore, which had created Dollar Express LLC to run the business, asked the FTC to approve the stores’ transfer to competitor Dollar General (DG.N) in March and said in a document filed with the FTC that the chain could “no longer viably operate as a standalone business.”

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        Categories: Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, General, Uncategorized

          April 24, 2017

          The Antitrust Week In Review

          Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

          Anthem Denies Report of Talks with Justice Dept.Regarding Merger.  Health insurer Anthem Inc. denied a report on Thursday that it was in negotiations with the Justice Department in an effort to save its merger with smaller rival Cigna Corp.  The companies are awaiting a decision from a federal appeals court, which had been asked to rule on whether the Justice Department could stop the $54 billion merger on antitrust grounds.  The lawsuit was originally brought by the Obama administration and a federal judge agreed that the deal should be stopped.

          AT&T’s Words on Time Warner Deal Say ‘Underdog.’  Its Actions Speak Otherwise.  In the nation’s capital, AT&T has painted itself as an underdog that needs to merge with Time Warner in a blockbuster $85 billion deal to compete with powerful cable companies.  But in several cities and states, AT&T has positioned itself as the incumbent telecommunications juggernaut that has acted to hamper competitors locally.  With its giant deal with Time Warner under review at the Justice Department, AT&T’s contrasting federal and local actions are glaring.

          Appeals Court Skeptical of Piercing MLB Antitrust Exemption.  A three-court panel of federal appeals judges was skeptical of a lawyer for minor league baseball players who wants to pierce the sport’s antitrust exemption.  Sergio Miranda, an infielder drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2007, sued Major League Baseball, then-Commissioner Bud Selig and the 30 clubs in 2014 along with several other minor leaguers, alleging the sport’s minor league reserve system violates federal antitrust law. The suit was dismissed on Sept. 24, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., and the minor leaguers wants the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the action.

          Fed Fines Deutsche Bank $156.6 Million for Forex Violations.  The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday fined Deutsche Bank AG $156.6 million for violating foreign exchange rules and running afoul of the Volcker Rule.  The German bank failed to detect and halt its traders from using chat rooms to communicate with competitors, the Fed said in a statement.  Central bank officials are “requiring the firm to cooperate in any investigation of the individuals involved in the conduct underlying the FX enforcement,” according to the statement.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, General, International Competition Issues

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