August 22, 2016

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. senator expresses concern about ag tech mergers.  Two major mergers in agricultural technology and seeds could hurt competition in the industry and make it harder for smaller companies to compete, Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter on Wednesday sent to antitrust enforcers.  Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, urged the Federal Trade Commission, which is reviewing the purchase of Syngenta AG by the China National Chemical Corp, and the Justice Department, which is looking at the merger of Dow Chemical Co and DuPont Co, to coordinate on the two reviews.

Aetna warned it would cut Obamacare if Humana deal was blocked.  Aetna Inc warned in July that it would exit much of the individual Obamacare health insurance market if the government challenged its deal to buy rival Humana Inc, according to a letter it sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.  The public release of the letter came after Aetna said that it would pull out of selling individual insurance on the government-run websites in 11 states, citing financial losses on the business.  The Justice Department moved on July 21 to block Aetna’s acquisition of Humana and Anthem Inc’s purchase of Cigna Corp after an antitrust review, saying the two deals would lead to higher prices.

Utah Firm That Finds Distant Heirs Accused in Antitrust Case.  Federal prosecutors filed an antitrust case Wednesday against a Salt Lake City-based company that’s part of a little-known industry specializing in tracking down heirs to unclaimed inheritances.  Kemp & Associates Inc. and executive Daniel Mannix are accused in an indictment of conspiring with other companies for more than 14 years so they wouldn’t have to compete with each other.  Prosecutors contend that strategy unfairly drove up prices for the heirs.

Judge trims reverse payment claims against Endo, Impax over Opana.  A federal judge has trimmed state law claims brought by health plans in a class action lawsuit claiming that Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc paid a rival drugmaker to delay the launch of a generic version of Endo’s painkiller Opana ER, forcing the health plans to pay higher prices by preventing competition.  U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber in Chicago on Thursday dismissed unjust enrichment claims brought by the health plans against Endo and rival Impax Laboratories under Illinois and Rhode Island law, saying that those states do not allow indirect purchasers such as health plans to recover damages for antitrust injuries.

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Categories: Antitrust Litigation

    August 15, 2016

    The Antitrust Week In Review

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

    South Korea says investigating whether Google broke antitrust laws.  South Korea’s antitrust regulator said on Friday it is looking into whether Google has violated the country’s anticompetition laws, acknowledging formal scrutiny of the global internet search company for the first time.  The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) disclosed the investigation in a brief statement, without commenting on the nature of the probe nor any potential antitrust violations.  A person familiar with the matter told Reuters last month the KFTC inspected Google’s Seoul headquarters in July.

    Google Fined for Breaking Russian Antitrust Rules With Android.  Russian antitrust officials fined Google $6.8 million on Thursday, a relatively small penalty that nevertheless represents the latest in a growing list of global regulatory problems for the American search giant.  Russian authorities ruled last year that Google had abused its market position with Android, its mobile operating system, by favoring some of its digital services over those of rivals, including the Russian company Yandex.  As part of its ruling, the Federation Antimonopoly Service said that Google’s rivals had not been able to include their own offerings, like digital maps or search, in the Android operating system that powers a majority of smartphones and other mobile devices in Russia.

    Aluminum price-fixing claims rejected by U.S. appeals court.  A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld the dismissal of nationwide antitrust litigation accusing banks and commodity companies of conspiring to drive up aluminum prices by reducing supply, forcing them to overpay.  By a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan said so-called commercial end users and consumer end users lacked standing to sue because their alleged antitrust injuries were too far removed from the alleged misconduct.  The plaintiffs had accused Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, the mining company Glencore Plc , and various commodity trading, metals mining and metals warehousing companies of having colluded from 2009 to 2012 to rig prices by hoarding inventory.

    Judge sets Aetna-Humana antitrust trial date for Dec. 5.  The federal judge hearing the U.S. Justice Department’s case to block Aetna Inc’s $34 billion purchase of Humana Inc has set a trial date for Dec. 5, 2016, later than the companies had requested.  Aetna and Humana are fighting the Department of Justice’s lawsuit asserting that combining the two companies will harm consumers and raise prices.

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    Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      August 8, 2016

      The Antitrust Week In Review

      Amazon Japan raided on suspicion of antitrust practices: Nikkei. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has raided the office of Amazon Japan on suspicion of pressuring retailers to offer products on more favorable conditions than on rival sites, the Nikkei business daily reported on Monday. The paper did not say when the raid took place. Amazon Japan is suspected of imposing conditions on retailers such as forcing them to sell products at a lower price if they were also advertising on other online shopping sites, the Nikkei said, citing sources with knowledge of the case.

      U.S. Challenge to Anthem-Cigna Deal Gets New Judge. The judge overseeing the U.S. government’s bid to stop health insurer Anthem Inc from buying Cigna Corp, who had been seen as favorable for the deal, has relinquished the case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was named to hear the case after Judge John Bates asked that it be reassigned. Judge Jackson was nominated to the bench in 2011 by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Judge Bates will hear the U.S. Justice Department’s challenge to Aetna Inc’s purchase of Humana Inc. He was originally assigned to both cases The judge had ruled against antitrust enforcers in 2004 when he allowed Arch Coal Inc to buy Triton Coal.

      Sony Wins Unconditional EU Approval for Michael Jackson Deal. EU antitrust regulators have cleared Sony Corp’s bid to buy out Michael Jackson’s stake in its music publishing joint venture, the world’s largest with copyrights to the Beatles’ songs and songs by Taylor Swift. The European Commission said deal would not hurt competition in the recorded music and music publishing industries. “The transaction will not materially increase Sony’s market power vis-a-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger,” the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation

        August 1, 2016

        The Antitrust Week In Review

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

        Uber Can’t Force Arbitration Over Pricing Antitrust Claim.  Uber Technologies Inc. can’t require a Connecticut customer accusing the company of price-fixing to resolve the fight in arbitration, a federal judge ruled in one of several cases challenging the ride-hailing company’s efforts to steer disputes of all kinds away from public courtrooms.  U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Friday that Uber’s online user agreement did not provide Spencer Meyer with sufficient notice of its arbitration policy for it to be binding.  The court denied Uber’s request to throw out the antitrust lawsuit over the company’s practice of raising prices during periods of high demand and have the matter sent to an arbitrator.  Constantine Cannon is one of the law firms representing the plaintiff against Uber.

        Teva, Allergan Win U.S. Antitrust Approval for Generics Deal.  Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. won U.S. antitrust approval to purchase Allergan Plc’s generics business after agreeing to divest 79 generic drugs to rival firms, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.  The $40.5 billion deal, which was announced in July 2015, solidifies Teva’s position as the world’s No. 1 maker of generics while freeing Allergan to focus on branded drugs.  Teva will sell rights and assets related to the 79 pharmaceutical products to 11 rival firms, marking the largest ever drug divestiture order in an FTC pharmaceutical merger case, the FTC stated.

        Dow, DuPont Seek EU Okay for $130 Billion Deal with Concessions.  U.S. chemical giants Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont have offered concessions in a bid to allay EU antitrust concerns about their proposed $130 billion (£99.1 billion) merger.  The companies put in their offer on July 20, according to a filing on the European Commission website, which did not provide details.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          July 19, 2016

          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 Faces New Round of Antitrust Charges in Europe.  When it comes to Europe’s lengthy investigations into Google, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is hoping that the third time’s a charm.  Ms. Vestager announced on Thursday a new round of antitrust charges against the company — the third set since early 2015 — claiming that some of the company’s advertising products had restricted consumer choice.  The efforts are part of her continuing push to rein in Google’s activities in the European Union, where the Silicon Valley company has captured roughly 90 percent of the region’s online search market.

          Antitrust ruling on big mergers expected soon.  A U.S. Justice Department decision on the proposed mergers of Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc., and Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp., could come as soon as this week.  Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna met earlier this month with Justice Department officials to make its case for its $37 billion merger with Louisville, Kentucky-based rival Humana, just two weeks after a similar meeting involving the $54 billion merger of Indianapolis-based Anthem and Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna, Bloomberg reported.

          Teva says Allergan deal to close ‘any time’, expects U.S. antitrust clearance.  Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Wednesday it expected its $40 billion deal to buy Allergan Plc’s generics business to close “at any time,” even as the companies extended the deadline for completing the transaction to October to allow more time for the U.S. antitrust review.  The deal was announced more than a year ago and had been expected to wrap up last month, but it has taken longer as the companies have arranged sales of more drugs than anticipated to clear the antitrust regulators.  The deal closing is contingent on clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the antitrust regulator reviewing the deal, which the companies said they expect at any time.

          Bayer Raises Takeover Bid for Monsanto.  The German industrial giant Bayer raised its all-cash takeover bid for Monsanto on Thursday, turning up the heat in its pursuit of the American agricultural company.  In a news release, Bayer said that it had increased its offer to $125 a share from $122 a share.  The German company also proposed a $1.5 billion breakup fee if a merger of the two companies ran afoul of government regulators — a concession to concerns that a transaction could raise opposition from antitrust officials.  Though the two companies operate on separate sides of the agricultural business, regulators may closely scrutinize a merger that could put additional pricing pressure on farmers.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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