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 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 25, 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.

      Price-Fixing Truck Makers Get Record E.U. Fine: $3.2 Billion.  The European Union’s antitrust chief imposed a record fine of 2.9 billion euros, or $3.2 billion, on a group of truck makers on Tuesday, part of a trend toward steeper penalties for competition violations in the 28-nation bloc.  The fine was for price-fixing and operating a secretive system aimed at delaying the installation of pollution-curbing exhaust pipes and engines.  Earlier this month, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, announced a new round of antitrust charges against Google, on suspicion that some of the company’s advertising products had restricted consumer choice.

      U.S. Moves to Block Massive Health Insurer Deals Led by Anthem, Aetna.  U.S. antitrust officials on Thursday moved to block an unprecedented consolidation of the national health insurance market, filing a lawsuit against Anthem Inc.’s proposed purchase of Cigna Corp and Aetna Inc.’s planned acquisition of Humana Inc.  The U.S. Department of Justice said the two multibillion-dollar mergers would reduce competition, raise prices for consumers and stifle innovation if the number of large, national insurers were to fall from five to three.  It was the latest example of the Obama administration challenging massive combinations in major industries, from oilfield services to telecommunications.

      Daimler Says It has Made Provisions for 1 Billion Euro Anti-Trust Fine.  German truck maker Daimler has made provisions to cover a billion-euro cartel fine imposed by the European Commission.  EU antitrust regulators handed down a record 2.93-billion-euro ($3.24 billion) fine on truck makers Daimler, Paccar, Volvo/Renault and Iveco for taking part in a cartel related to emissions-reducing technology.  “We can confirm that a settlement has been reached with the EU Commission in the antitrust investigation. The fine that has been imposed (on Daimler) amounts to approximately 1.009 billion euros,” Daimler said in a statement, adding that it had made provisions to cover the fine.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, 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

          July 11, 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.

          Aetna Meets with Justice Department Over Merger with Humana.  Aetna executives met with top antitrust officials of the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday to convince the government that asset sales it proposed would address potential competitive problems that could threaten its deal to buy rival Humana, according to a source.  Aetna’s plan to buy Humana would combine two of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans for elderly people, and investors are concerned that antitrust regulators could oppose the deal.  The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is assessing both Aetna’s $34 billion merger as well as Anthem’s $44 billion deal to buy rival Cigna.

          EU Regulators Accept Antitrust Concessions from Maersk, MSC, Others.  European Union antitrust regulators accepted on Thursday an offer from Maersk , the world’s largest container shipping liner, and 13 competitors to change their pricing practices in order to stave off possible fines.  The case is being closely watched by other sectors such as supermarkets and chemicals companies, concerned that similar pricing methods could lead to charges of price fixing by competition enforcers.  The European Commission opened a case against the container shipping liners in late 2013, following dawn raids two years earlier.

          EU Set to Clear Italian Mobile Telecoms Merger-Sources.  CK Hutchison Holdings and Vimpelcom are set to win EU antitrust approval for their deal to merge their rival Italian mobile network operators after agreeing to concessions to help a new competitor break into the market, according to sources.  Approval of the 21.8-billion-euro deal to merge Hutchison’s 3 Italia with Vimpelcom’s Wind Telecommunicazioni would be welcome news for the industry after the European Commission blocked Hutchison’s similar deal in the UK to merge its Three UK subsidiary with Telefonica’s O2 UK.  European regulators fear that when such deals reduce the number of mobile network operators in a country to just three, competition would be insufficient to keep a lid on prices.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

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