The Antitrust Week In Review
U.S. Supreme Court Liberals Skeptical of American Express Merchant Fees. Liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices sharply questioned American Express over its policy of forbidding merchants from encouraging customers to use rival credit cards with lower fees, a practice that some states and the Trump administration have concluded violates federal antitrust law. The high court heard about an hour of arguments in an appeal by the states, led by Ohio, of a 2016 ruling by a lower court in New York that cleared American Express of unlawfully stifling competition through its so-called anti-steering provisions in contracts with merchants. While liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer signaled hostility toward the company’s policy, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch indicated support for American Express. It was less clear how the other conservative justices would vote.
Google’s shopping rivals call for action from EU antitrust watchdog. Google competitors have called for further action by European Union antitrust regulators to ensure the Alphabet-owned firm treats rivals offering shopping services equally. Last year, Google said it would allow competitors to bid for ads at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms, after the European Commission fined it a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.9 billion). “Google’s remedy proposal is, on its face, non-compliant with the prohibition decision,” a group of 19 rivals said in a letter to European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
U.P.S. Seeks More Than $2 Billion in Damages Over TNT Bid. United Parcel Service has sued European antitrust regulators for a decision they made five years ago that blocked its takeover of the Dutch delivery company TNT Express, according to a record of court proceedings. U.P.S. had pursued the TNT merger in the hope of gaining a larger presence in Europe and in emerging markets, but European officials rejected it because of concerns that the transaction would decrease competition and increase prices. The General Court of the European Union annulled the decision by European Commission regulators last year, in part because the commission had used different economic models at different times to evaluate the deal.
Deutsche Bank to pay $240 million to end Libor rigging lawsuit in U.S. Deutsche Bank AG has agreed to pay $240 million to settle private U.S. antitrust litigation accusing it of conspiring with other banks to manipulate the Libor benchmark interest rate. The preliminary settlement with the German bank was disclosed in filings on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and requires a judge’s approval. Deutsche Bank is the third bank to resolve claims by so-called “over-the-counter” investors that transacted directly with banks on a panel to determine Libor.