October 5, 2015

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

Court Strikes Down Payments to College Athletes. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the N.C.A.A. may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance, handing the college sports establishment a victory in its fight against athletes’ rights. The appeals court held that limiting student athletes’ compensation to the cost of attendance in exchange for use of their names, images and likenesses was sufficient under antitrust law.

EU antitrust chief says Apple, Google cases show no U.S. bias. Europe’s antitrust chief is dismissing accusations of anti-U.S. bias over her decision to go after Google for abusing its Internet search dominance and Apple over an Irish tax deal. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is defending herself against criticisms in U.S. media for several cases opened over the past year against U.S. giants such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Starbucks. According to the antitrust enforcer, the nationality of companies played no role in her assessment.

Swiss Regulator Is Examining Precious-Metals Market. Switzerland’s Competition Commission is investigating seven financial institutions, including the Swiss banks UBS and Julius Baer, over potential collusion to manipulate the precious-metals market. The antitrust regulator announced that it was examining whether there was collusion among banks around the bid-ask spread in the trading of gold, silver, platinum and palladium. The financial institutions are Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Julius Baer, Morgan Stanley and UBS, and the trading house Mitsui & Company Precious Metals, a unit of Mitsui & Company of Japan.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    September 28, 2015

    The Antitrust Week In Review

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

    F.T.C. is Said to Investigate Claims that Google Used Android to Promote Its Products.  Google’s world wide regulatory problems are coming back home to the U.S.  The Federal Trade Commission has started investigating complaints that Google unfairly uses its Android mobile operating system to bolster such popular Google products as Google Search and Google Maps, according to sources involved in the inquiry.

    EU Launches Extensive Probe into Staples’ Bid for Office Depot.  EU antitrust regulators have opened an extensive investigation into U.S. office supplier Staples’ $6.3 billion bid for rival Office Depot out of concerns of possible price hikes as a result of the deal.  In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is also examining the deal, which has received the green light from competition authorities in China, Australia and New Zealand.

    U.S. Insurance Mega Mergers Could Hurt Care: Psychiatric Group.  The American Psychiatric Association is warning U.S. antitrust regulators that two proposed health insurance deals could worsen access to mental health care services, adding to public opposition from several prominent doctors groups.  Anthem Inc. would become the largest U.S. health insurer if a proposed $47 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp., is consummated.  Aetna Inc. is seeking to buy Humana Inc., which would make that insurer the largest provider of Medicare plans for older people.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement

      September 21, 2015

      The Antitrust Week In Review

      Justice department seeks more information on Aetna, Humana deal.  The U.S. Department of Justice is asking health insurer Aetna Inc. for more information about its pending $37 billion acquisition of Humana Inc.  The Justice Department’s “second request” will delay by 30 days the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart–Scott–Rodino antitrust act, Aetna said in a regulatory filing.  Aetna’s offer to buy Humana and rival health insurer Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion offer for Cigna Inc. are expected to face close scrutiny from regulators due to concerns that the two deals could lead to higher insurance prices.

      Antitrust Nod for Expedia to Buy Orbitz.  The Justice Department will not try to block the acquisition of travel booking site Orbitz by its larger rival Expedia, clearing the way for the companies to complete their $1.3 billion merger.  Hotel companies, along with some consumer advocates and lawmakers, have raised concerns over the potential market power of the combined company, which would control about 75 percent of the domestic market for third-party online booking.  However, the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcers concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competition and consumers.

      Petco begins merger talks with PetSmart – sources.  Petco Holdings Inc. is exploring the possibility of being acquired by PetSmart Inc., according to sources.  Such a merger could result in a company with some 30 percent of U.S. pet specialty supplies stores.

      GE among bidders for Halliburton’s assets: Bloomberg.  General Electric Co. is bidding for pieces of Halliburton Co.’s drilling services and drilling bits businesses, as the latter seeks regulatory approval to buy Baker Hughes Inc., according to Bloomberg.  U.S. antitrust enforcers are concerned that the proposed $35 billion deal for Halliburton to acquire smaller rival Baker Hughes would lead to higher prices and less innovation in the oilfield services industry.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, General

        September 18, 2015

        Anheuser-Busch Aims To Convince Miller That This Merger’s For You

        By Hamsa Mahendranathan

        After years of speculation that two beer giants will tie the knot, Anheuser-Busch InBev has disclosed its intention to acquire SABMiller.

        This acquisition would combine the world’s two largest brewers by revenue, which together have $69 billion in annual revenue and command 30% of global beer sales.  Anheuser-Busch’s brands of beer include Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois Hoegaarden and Skol.  SABMiller’s offerings include Miller Lite, Aguila, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell.  In the United States, SABMiller owns 58 percent of the MillerCoors joint venture which has the right to market Coors in the U.S.

        Large breweries have seen their sales fall as customers in established markets have shifted their consumption to wines and craft beers.  For Anheuser-Busch, the deal is an opportunity to solidify its presence in existing markets, expand its global reach and grab SABMiller while it is relatively cheap.  SABMiller’s share price has fallen recently, and it continues to have a strong presence in markets where Anheuser-Busch has little or none, such as Africa, Colombia and Peru.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

          August 31, 2015

          The Antitrust Week In Review

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

          Google rebuts Europe on antitrust charges.  Google is denying claims from the European Union’s top antitrust official that it favored some of its own search results over those of rivals, saying there was significant competition in the region’s online search market and that the company’s services increased choice for consumers.  Google’s response to the charges, which was submitted to the European Commission Thursday afternoon, is the latest chapter in a long investigation into the Silicon Valley technology giant, which would face fines worth billions of dollars if it is found to have violated the European Union’s antitrust rules.

          EU antitrust regulators investigate precious metals trading.  European Union antitrust authorities are investigating possible anti-competitive practices in precious metals trading as they join other regulators in a crackdown on possible rigging of the markets.  The European Commission’s action follows a record 1.7 billion euro fine against six financial institutions in 2013 for manipulating Libor and Euribor interest rate benchmarks.

          Dismissal of drug-pricing antitrust lawsuit affirmed.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a more than 20-year-old lawsuit filed by 28 retail pharmacies accusing Johnson & Johnson of suppressing competition by giving large pharmacy benefit managers discounts on drugs.  The court said that extensive discovery had shown that the pharmacies had not lost a significant amount of customers, and thus could not show any antitrust injury.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

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