The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
E.U. Fines Qualcomm $1.2 Billion Over Apple Deal. European antitrust officials hammered Qualcomm with a $1.2 billion fine on Wednesday, saying the American chip maker, whose technology underpins much of the world’s mobile phone industry, had abused its dominant market position to squeeze out competitors. The penalty of 997 million euros follows a two-year investigation and is the latest move by regional regulators against a United States tech giant. Officials in Brussels say that Qualcomm offered financial incentives to Apple so that it would buy equipment solely from the chip maker. Qualcomm immediately said it would appeal the ruling, which would probably extend the case, originally announced in the summer of 2015, for years to come.
Murdoch’s Bid for Full Control of Sky Is Dealt a Blow by U.K. Regulator. Rupert Murdoch’s yearslong effort to secure an even larger presence in the international media market suffered a new setback on Tuesday, when a British regulator provisionally rejected 21st Century Fox’s bid to acquire full control of Sky, the British satellite broadcaster. Mr. Murdoch has made multiple attempts to acquire the part of Sky not already under his control, only to find himself thwarted by a phone-hacking scandal and the British authorities. The regulatory decision announced on Tuesday was the latest blow to 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not now own.
BNP Paribas unit pleads guilty in U.S. to currency rigging, fined $90 mln. A unit of BNP Paribas SA agreed to plead guilty and pay a $90 million criminal fine for rigging foreign currency prices, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday. BNP Paribas USA admitted to having conspired to suppress competition by fixing prices for Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies from September 2011 to July 2013, violating U.S. antitrust law. The Justice Department said the conspiracy involved price manipulation on an electronic trading platform through the creation of bogus trades, coordinated trading, and agreements on what prices to quote to specific customers, among other means.
Judge orders U.S. government to seek consent to give data to AT&T, Time Warner. The judge hearing the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop AT&T from buying Time Warner ordered the department to seek permission to give the two companies access to rivals’ pricing data. Judge Richard Leon, living up to a pledge made during a hearing, ordered the Justice Department, which has the data, to ask the companies that gave it to the government for consent to pass it on to AT&T and Time Warner’s legal team. The Justice Department sued in November to stop AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless company, from buying Time Warner for $85 billion because of concerns that it could raise prices for rivals and pay-TV subscribers as well as hamper the development of online video. Trial is set for March 19.