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

        October 31, 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.

        Swift Opposition to Resurrection of AT&T Giant.  Over three decades ago, such was AT&T’s monopoly over the nation’s communications networks that the government forcefully shattered its empire.  Now, as one of its successors again seeks a formidable business empire by buying Time Warner, lawmakers, analysts and advocacy groups are closely watching to see if the union, or any that follow in its wake, poses harm to consumers.  Reaction to AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase was swift — and, outside of Wall Street, full of skepticism.

        Italy Antitrust Agency Probes WhatsApp Messaging Service.  Italy’s antitrust watchdog said on Friday it had opened a probe into whether messaging service WhatsApp obliged users to agree to sharing personal data with its parent company Facebook and imposed “unfair” conditions on users.  WhatsApp said in August it would start sharing phone numbers with the social network, prompting European regulators to declare they would put the matter under close scrutiny.  The Italian agency said it was investigating whether the WhatsApp application had led users to believe they would have not been able to continue using it unless they agreed to terms and conditions including the sharing of personal data.

        Qualcomm Must Woo EU Antitrust Foes to Win Blessing for NXP.  Qualcomm Inc., locked in a lengthy fight with the European Union over antitrust fines, must woo the same regulator to win clearance for its $47 billion-dollar takeover of NXP Semiconductors NV.  The bid for NXP is the largest transaction in the history of the semiconductor industry, requiring approval from the European Commission, the EU’s competition watchdog, and other global merger authorities.  For Qualcomm, it will mean going cap in hand to Brussels to get its deal through just as it fights two EU antitrust cases that could lead to possible fines as soon as next year.

        Gazprom Putting ‘Final Touch’ to EU Antitrust Deal.  Gazprom is finalizing a deal with European Union regulators to end a five-year antitrust case and avoid fines, signaling a thaw in business relations between Moscow and Brussels despite tensions over Ukraine and Syria.  The Russian state gas exporter, which supplies a third of the EU’s gas, has been on the European Commission’s radar since 2012, culminating in charges last year that it overcharged customers in eastern and central Europe and blocked rivals.  Since then, Gazprom has offered concessions aimed at staving off a potential fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

          October 24, 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.

          AT&T to Pay $85 Billion for Time Warner, Create Telecom-Media Giant.  AT&T said on Saturday it agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, the boldest move yet by a telecommunications company to acquire content to stream over its network to attract a growing number of online viewers.  The biggest deal in the world this year will, if approved by regulators, give AT&T control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets.  The tie-up will likely face intense scrutiny by U.S. antitrust enforcers worried that AT&T might try to limit distribution of Time Warner material.

          Deutsche Bank to Pay $38 Million in U.S. Silver Price-Fixing Case.  Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay $38 million to settle U.S. litigation over allegations it illegally conspired with other banks to fix silver prices at the expense of investors, according to court papers.  The settlement, disclosed in papers filed in federal court in Manhattan, came in one of many recent lawsuits in which investors have accused banks of conspiring to rig rates and prices in financial and commodities markets.  The settlement had been expected since April, though terms had yet to be disclosed.

          Intel’s $1.4B Antitrust Verdict Should be Reviewed, Top EU Judge Says.  Intel’s hope of recovering a record antitrust fine have improved with a recommendation from a top European Union judge on Thursday that the case be reviewed.  The company paid the 1.06 billion euro (then US$1.4 billion) fine in 2009 after the European Commission found it guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market for x86 processors.  Since then, it has been seeking to have the judgment overturned, first by the EU’s General Court and then, since 2014, by the EU’s highest legal authority, the Court of Justice.

          EU Regulators Want to Know if LinkedIn Data is Unique: Sources.  EU antitrust regulators want to know whether LinkedIn’s data is unique, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday, which could be key to their decision on Microsoft’s $26 billion bid for the social network.  The European Commission earlier this week sent questionnaires to third parties, asking for their views on the subject after Microsoft sought approval for its biggest ever acquisition.  One of the questions asked whether LinkedIn’s data from its 433 million professionals is unique and whether it can be replicated, and to what extent substitutes exist for LinkedIn, the people said.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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