November 28, 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.

Trump Picks Regulation Opponents to Lead FCC Transition.  President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of experts to focus on new policies at the Federal Communications Commission signals a regime that will have a “lighter” touch on regulation and be more likely to favor large mergers in telecoms industries, analysts said.  Economist Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint Corp lobbyist Mark Jamison were named by Trump’s transition team to oversee hiring and policy for the FCC.  They both oppose some recent telecom industry regulations resisted by telecom and cable heavyweights, such as Comcast Corp and AT&T Inc, and have voiced support for mega mergers in the past.

Exclusive: Microsoft Set to Win EU Approval for LinkedIn Buy – Sources.  Microsoft is set to gain EU approval for its $26 billion buy of professional social network LinkedIn with tweaks to concessions aimed at addressing competition concerns, three people close to the matter said on Wednesday.  Microsoft told the European Commission that it would still allow LinkedIn’s rivals access to its software such as its Outlook program and give hardware makers the option of installing competing professional social networks on computers after the acquisition.

U.S. Court Upholds AstraZeneca, Ranbaxy Win in Nexium Antitrust Trial.  A U.S. appeals court upheld AstraZeneca Plc and Ranbaxy Laboratories’ victory in a lawsuit accusing them of reaching an illegal deal to delay the launch of a generic version of AstraZeneca’s heartburn drug Nexium.  A panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston refused to throw out a December 2014 jury verdict in favor of AstraZeneca and Ranbaxy, which was acquired in March 2015 by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Anthem Argues Fortune 500 Will Not Suffer from Cigna Deal.  Anthem Inc. and the U.S. Justice Department dug in their heels in court over whether the lower prices the health insurer expects to negotiate after buying smaller rival Cigna Corp are an efficiency that benefits customers or an antitrust violation.  In the first phase of what could be a two-stage trial, a lawyer for Anthem argued that the $45-billion deal, which was announced more than a year ago, would create a new, bigger insurer with the power to push down prices that it would pass onto customers.  But the Justice Department argued that any cost cuts would come from Anthem using its clout in the market to force hospitals and doctors to work for less.

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Categories: Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

    November 14, 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.

    Trump’s Policies May Bring Fresh Wave of Deals.  With a man who is co-author of “The Art of the Deal” as president-elect, deal making can be expected to increase.  This rise will be determined by whether a Trump administration can govern with stability.  And then there is the biggest factor these days in deals — antitrust.  It all means that the long-term forces now pushing companies toward making deals are likely to continue, but with some big caveats, namely whether Mr. Trump can govern from a position of stability and consistency.

    Google Lawyer Says Android Helps Rather Than Harms Competition.  Google’s Android mobile operating system boosts competition rather than hurts it, the company’s general counsel said on Thursday, in a rebuttal of EU antitrust charges that it uses the platform to crush rivals.  The comments by Google general counsel Kent Walker on a blog came a week after the U.S. technology group rejected two other EU accusations of unfairly promoting its shopping service and blocking competitors in online search advertising.  The Android case could potentially be the most damaging for Google.

    U.S. Senate Panel Urges FTC to Launch Antitrust Probe of Mylan.  The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee urged federal antitrust regulators on Monday to launch a probe into whether EpiPen maker Mylan broke the law by preventing schools from purchasing competing allergy treatments.  The bipartisan request to the Federal Trade Commission by Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy comes just a few weeks before the committee is slated to convene a hearing to scrutinize a pending $465 million settlement that Mylan has said will resolve claims it underpaid rebates to state and federal Medicaid programs.

    U.S. Urges Court to Overturn AmEx Antitrust Decision.  The U.S. government on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a recent antitrust decision allowing American Express to stop merchants from encouraging customers to use rival cards that charge lower fees.  In its Sept. 26 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that had struck down AmEx’s “anti-steering” rules.  At issue are the more than $50 billion of fees that merchants pay annually to process transactions.

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

      November 7, 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.

      A New Movement in Liberal Economics that Could Shape Hillary Clinton’s Agenda.  If you want to know what economic policy would look like in a Hillary Clinton administration, you can read her speeches or policy positions or look at the backgrounds of the advisers she surrounds herself with.

      But it’s also worth examining a 21-page briefing paper issued on Oct. 25 by Obama White House economists about an important concept with a forbidding name: labor market monopsony.  The paper is a prime example of the direction left-of-center economic policy is going, evident not just in the Obama administration’s second-term priorities but in a range of work at liberal think tanks and in Mrs. Clinton’s own economic proposals.

      Google Formally Rejects EU Antitrust Charge.  Google on Thursday formally rejected European Union antitrust charges of unfairly promoting its shopping service and blocking rivals in online search advertising, paving the way for EU regulators to rule next year on these issues and potentially impose hefty fines.  The U.S. technology giant’s rebuttal in the shopping case came six years after the European Commission opened an investigation prompted by complaints from rivals such as Microsoft and a host of European and U.S. rivals.

      News of Charges in Price-Fixing Inquiry Sends Pharmaceuticals Tumbling.  The generic drug industry was jolted on Thursday as shares of many major companies tumbled after a news report said that a federal inquiry into drug price-fixing was wider than previously believed and could lead to charges by the end of the year.  Shares in Teva Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest generic drug maker, fell more than 9 percent, and the stock of competitors like Mylan, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories had similar declines.  The report, from Bloomberg, said that the investigation, being done by the Justice Department, was looking at more than a dozen companies, and that the prices of about two dozen drugs were involved.

      U.S. Tentatively Grants Antitrust Approval for Delta, Aeromexico Alliance.  The U.S. Transportation Department said Friday it has tentatively granted antitrust immunity for a proposed alliance between Delta Air Lines Inc and Grupo Aeromexico SAB de CV, requiring the carriers to divest some slots in New York and Mexico City.  The airlines plan to operate a joint venture between the U.S. and Mexico.  The U.S. Transportation Department is proposing the carriers divest enough takeoff and landing authorizations to allow 24 new daily international flights from Mexico City and six new daily flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

        June 20, 2016

        The Antitrust Week In Review

        Advocate-NorthShore Merger Delayed Again.  Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem face another delay over a merger they announced almost two years ago.  U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso on Friday granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to halt the proposed merger pending its appeal of the judge’s decision earlier this week that cleared the way for the deal to close.  On Tuesday, Judge Alonso, after a six-day hearing in April, said the FTC had not met its burden for a preliminary injunction. But he turned around Friday and granted an injunction after the commission said it would appeal his Tuesday ruling to a higher court.

        Justice Department Should Analyze Dow-DuPont Deal: Senator.  The chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday urged federal antitrust officials to conduct a “careful analysis” of Dow Chemical Co’s proposed $130 billion merger with DuPont, adding pressure on officials to scrutinize how rapid consolidation in agriculture will affect farmers and consumers.  U.S. Senator Charles Grassley called for the review in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division.  The Iowa Republican said he was concerned the planned tie-up will decrease competition in the farming sector following a flood of mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

        Antitrust Cops Warn Merging Firms: Be Real.  The U.S. Department of Justice is sending a warning signal to health insurers, chemical companies and others seeking antitrust approval for big deals: Leave the dubious charts at home.  Antitrust lawyers for companies seeking approval for big mergers have for years bolstered their case by providing extensive economic analyses, often market by market, to show that the tie-ups wouldn’t stifle competition.  Justice Department officials are now saying they’re not going to be swayed in their analysis by impenetrable economic models.

        HSBC to Pay $35 Million to Resolve Yen Libor Litigation in U.S.  HSBC Holdings Plc will pay $35 million to end private U.S. antitrust litigation claiming that it harmed investors by conspiring with other banks to manipulate the yen Libor and Euroyen Tibor benchmark interest rates.  Papers outlining the preliminary settlement were filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.  Court approval is required.  The accord came four and one-half months after Citigroup Inc. reached a similar $23 million settlement, in what lawyers for the plaintiff investors called an “ice breaker” that might spur some of the roughly 20 other bank defendants to settle.

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

          June 6, 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.

          NRF Urges FTC to Probe Credit Card Body on Antitrust Concerns.  The National Retail Federation is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate an organization founded by credit card companies to set data security standards, saying the group’s practices raise antitrust concerns.  The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council “fails to meet any of the principles adopted by the federal government for voluntary standard-setting organizations,” NRF General Counsel Mallory Duncan wrote to the FTC.  The NRF claims that the card companies use their market power to “unfairly leverage their brands and proprietary technology through webs of closely controlled interdependent bodies and compliance regimes” including the council.

          Merger Crackdown Part of ‘Mixed’ Obama Antitrust Record.  Although U.S. antitrust enforcement has picked up under President Barack Obama, his overall record on the issue still falls short of what some were expecting based on his campaign promises and sharp criticism of the George W. Bush administration.  The U.S. Department of Justice challenged an average of about 17 mergers annually during the first six years of the Obama presidency, an increase of about 18 percent over Bush administration levels, according to a Bloomberg BNA analysis of DOJ data.  But some competition advocates believe President Obama’s antitrust record is mixed, and not too far from his predecessor’s in some ways.

          EU Regulators to Rule on Mylan’s $7.2 Billion Meda Bid by July 6.  European Union antitrust regulators will rule by July 6 whether to allow U.S. generic drugmaker Mylan NV to buy Swedish peer Meda or open a full-scale investigation.  Mylan, which is making its third takeover attempt, sought EU approval on June 1, according to a filing on the European Commission website on Thursday.  If the Commission expresses competition concerns, the company has the option of offering concessions.

          AB InBev-SABMiller Deal Set to Gain U.S. Approval – Bloomberg.  The U.S. Justice Department is set to approve Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s takeover of SABMiller Plc later this month, in an agreement that may include measures to keep the merged entity from edging craft brewers out of the market, Bloomberg has reported, citing sources.  Clearance for the $100 billion-plus acquisition could include limits on the combined company’s ownership of distributors.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

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