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 carries out antitrust raid at firms dealing with sports media rights. EU investigators carried out unannounced inspections on Tuesday at the offices of firms linked to the broadcasting of sports events in several member states over concerns they may have violated EU antitrust rules, the European Commission said. It said the Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities. “Officials carried out unannounced inspections in several Member States at the premises of companies active in the distribution of media rights and related rights pertaining to various sports events and/or their broadcasting,” the Commission said in a statement.
Google poised to emerge unscathed from European antitrust crackdown. The European Union’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, has made it her mission to stem alleged anti-competitive abuses by big American tech companies, threatening as recently as last month to break up Alphabet Inc.’s Google. But a decision in the most important of three antitrust cases against Google – this one aimed at loosening its stranglehold over Android-powered smartphones – is likely to show just how difficult it is, even for a committed trust-buster like Vestager, to dent the power of the U.S. giants. The final ruling, expected within the next few months, will likely involve a multi-billion-dollar fine and an end to clauses in licensing agreements that stop smartphone vendors from promoting alternatives to apps such as Google Search and Maps, people familiar with the European Commission’s thinking say.
European Authorities Raid Offices of 21st Century Fox Unit. European authorities raided the London offices of a unit of 21st Century Fox on Tuesday as part of an antitrust investigation into the distribution of sports programming. The search at Fox Networks Group was one of several the European Commission said it had conducted across Europe as part of an investigation into potential violations of rules prohibiting price-fixing cartels. The investigation adds to the regulatory challenges that 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch’s media giant, is facing in Europe, where officials have held up its bid to take full control of the British satellite broadcaster Sky.
Bayer shares jump on report of U.S. antitrust deal on Monsanto. Bayer shares jumped nearly 5 percent on Tuesday following a media report that the U.S. Justice Department will allow the German drugs and pesticides group to acquire Monsanto in a $62.5 billion deal. The Justice Department reached an agreement in principle with Bayer and Monsanto in recent days after the companies agreed to sell more assets, the Wall Street Journal said late on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. Under the deal, Bayer agreed to sell additional seed and treatment assets to BASF and agreed to make concessions related to digital agriculture, it said.