The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
EU Fines Facebook 110 mln euros over WhatsApp deal. European Union antitrust regulators fined Facebook 110 million euros ($122 million) on Thursday for giving misleading information during a vetting of its deal to acquire messaging service WhatsApp in 2014. Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine,” the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Facebook had said it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and WhatsApp, but two years later launched a service that did exactly that.
Tronc in Talks with Wrapports to Acquire Chicago Sun-Times. Two longtime newspaper rivals in the once highly competitive Chicago market may end with the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times by the owner of the Chicago Tribune, which has grabbed the attention of the U.S. Justice Department Monday. Chicago-based Wrapports LLC announced in a statement it has agreed to enter into discussions with Tronc Inc., owner of several major newspapers, after failing to interest other media companies in acquiring the Sun-Times.
HSBC Settles Bondholders’ Claims of Libor Manipulation. HSBC Holdings Plc has settled claims by a group of U.S. bondholders that it conspired with rivals to rig the Libor benchmark interest rate, according to a New York court filing by the bondholders’ attorneys. The filing did not disclose the terms of the settlement, which it said must be approved by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan federal court.
Antitrust: Commission Opens Formal Investigation into Aspen Pharma’s Pricing Practices for Cancer Medicines. The European Commission has opened a formal investigation into concerns that Aspen Pharma has engaged in excessive pricing concerning five life-saving cancer medicines. The Commission will investigate whether Aspen has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.
Merck, Upsher-Smith to Pay $60 mln in ‘Pay-for-Delay’ Drug Case. Merck & Co Inc and Upsher-Smith Laboratories Inc. have agreed to pay $60.2 million to resolve a lawsuit that said they entered into a deal to unlawfully delay the availability of generic versions of potassium supplement K-Dur. The settlement, disclosed in papers filed in federal court in Newark, came in a class action filed in 2001 arising out of a settlement in patent litigation between Upsher-Smith and Schering-Plough Corp, now owned by Merck. That patent deal, plaintiffs in the antitrust class action said, was an example of a “pay-for-delay” settlement, in which brand-name drug makers pay generic companies to keep their products off the market for a longer period.