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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  May 26, 2015

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

Charter Said to Be Near Deal to Buy Time Warner Cable.  Following on the heels of Comcast’s failed bid to buy Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications has struck a deal to buy Time Warner, an acquisition that would create a powerhouse in the consolidating American cable and broadband industry.  Reportedly, Charter plans to announce today a $55 billion deal for its larger rival and an approximately $10 billion takeover of a smaller competitor, Bright House Networks.  Charter is still likely to face close scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, though some analysts have expressed the view that this deal is unlikely to face the same level of opposition as the Comcast bid for Time Warner.

Guilty Pleas and Heavy Fines Seem to Be Cost of Business for Wall St.   Even as five big banks plead guilty to felonies and paying out billions of dollars, the question remains whether top executives will shrug off the penalties as just a cost of doing business.  The U.S. Department of Justice hailed the guilty pleas by JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland to foreign exchange and Libor manipulation charges as a victory for discouraging corporate misconduct.  Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said that the penalty of more than $5 billion that the banks agreed to pay, including $2.5 billion in criminal fines, “should deter competitors in the future from chasing profits without regard to fairness, to the law, or to the public welfare.”  However, whether traders will be dissuaded from seeking out ways to gain any edge possible in financial dealings is an open question.

As antitrust case looms, ‘Peak Google’ debated.  As Google faces an investigation by European antitrust regulators, some analysts are questioning whether the California tech giant’s dominance has already peaked.  While Google remains one of the world’s biggest companies with overwhelming dominance in Internet searches, its prospects are less rosy in a tech landscape rapidly shifting to mobile devices and social media, according to some industry analysts.

Reynolds Said Set to Win Antitrust Clearance for Lorillard.  Reynolds American is reportedly on the verge of winning U.S. antitrust approval for its $25 billion purchase of its competitor Lorillard.  Reynolds, the maker of Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes, is seeking approval from the Federal Trade Commission to buy its tobacco rival.  To ensure the industry remains competitive, the company has offered to sell its Blu e-cigarettes and menthol brands, including Kool, to Imperial Tobacco Group.

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation,

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