October 8, 2015

European Parliament Adopts Revised Directive On Payment Services (PSD2)

A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

By James Ashe-Taylor and Yulia Tosheva

The European Parliament formally adopted the revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2) today.

The new law, proposed by the European Commission in July 2013, aims to enhance consumer protection, innovation and security of payment services.  Among the key changes introduced by the new rules are the following:

Introduction of strict security requirements for the initiation and processing of electronic payments and the protection of consumers’ financial data.

Opening the European Union payment market for companies offering innovative payment services based on access to payment accounts – the so-called “payment initiation services providers” and “account information services providers.”

Enhancing consumers’ rights in numerous areas, including reducing the liability for non-authorised payments and introducing an unconditional (“no questions asked”) refund right for direct debits in euros.

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Categories: Antitrust Legislation, International Competition Issues

    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 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

        September 14, 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.

        Banks to Settle With Investors in Suit Over Financial Crisis.  Twelve of the largest banks in the world are apparently on the verge of paying $1.865 billion to settle accusations that they illegally conspired to control a derivatives market that stood at the center of the financial crisis.  The banks have faced public criticism since the financial crisis for the opaque manner in which their traders bought and sold credit default swaps, a type of financial contract that allows investors to speculate and hedge against losses and that figured prominently in the crisis.

        U.S. doctors group says planned health mergers are anti-competitive.  The American Medical Association, the leading U.S. physicians’ organization, is arguing that two proposed mergers of U.S. health insurers worth tens of billions of dollars could lead to higher prices in 17 states for companies that buy insurance for their workers or people who buy their own insurance.  Aetna announced plans to buy smaller rival Humana in early July, and Anthem agreed to buy Cigna later that month.  Both mergers are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice and state insurance officials.

        EU regulators to rule on $16.7 billion Intel, Altera deal by October 14.  European Union antitrust regulators will decide by Oct. 14 whether to clear U.S. chipmaker Intel’s $16.7 billion bid for Altera Corp, its largest ever deal.  The EU competition authority can either clear the deal with or without conditions in a preliminary review or open a full-scale investigation.

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        Categories: Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          September 8, 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.

          U.S. judge approves $415 million settlement in tech worker lawsuit.  U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has granted final approval to a $415 million settlement of the high profile antitrust class action in which workers accused Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to hold down salaries.  The plaintiffs alleged that Apple, Google, Intel Corp and Adobe Systems conspired to avoid poaching each other’s employees, thus limiting job mobility and, as a result, keeping a lid on salaries.

          Google Antitrust Inquiries Spread Over Globe, With India the Latest Problem.  Google is now coming under antitrust scrutiny in India.  After a three-year investigation, the Competition Commission of India, India’s antitrust authority, has reportedly sent Google a report expressing concern (similar to European complaints) that Google is abusing its dominant position in search and online advertising by ranking its own services ahead of those of competitors.

          German carmakers win US antitrust approval to buy Nokia maps.  German carmakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes have won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Nokia’s maps business for around 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), according to the Federal Trade Commission.  Germany’s three premium carmakers will hold equal stakes in the business, known as HERE, and may allow automakers to offer new premium features, like autonomous driving, in luxury cars, shaking up the pecking order between car makers, their parts suppliers and software rivals like Uber and Google.

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          Categories: Antitrust Litigation, General, International Competition Issues

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