The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Sprint, T-Mobile Have to Sell $26.5B Deal to Antitrust Cops. To gain approval for their $26.5 billion merger agreement, T-Mobile and Sprint aim to convince antitrust regulators that there is plenty of competition for wireless service beyond Verizon and AT&T. The deal announced Sunday would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless companies and bulk them up to a similar size to Verizon and AT&T, the industry giants. But the companies argued that the combination would allow them to better compete not only with those two rivals but also with Comcast and others as the wireless, broadband and video industries converge.
EU considers using algorithms to detect anti-competitive acts. EU regulators may set up their own algorithms to find companies that use software to fix prices with peers or squeeze out their rivals, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Friday. The comments by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager underline the unease among policy enforcers about technologically-advanced tools such as computer algorithms that make it easier for companies to collude without any formal agreement or even human interaction. The European Commission’s inquiry into e-commerce last year, for example, found that two-thirds of retailers use algorithms to track their competitors’ prices.
Would AT&T’s Time Warner Deal Help or Hurt Consumers? Judge Will Now Decide. Lawyers faced off over the future of AT&T’s $85.4 billion blockbuster merger with Time Warner for a final time in a courtroom, sparring over what the deal would mean to consumers. The Justice Department, which sued to block the deal, argued that the merger would cost people millions of dollars a year by limiting competition. If the judge does approve the deal, the government said, the court should force the companies to sell off certain business lines to protect consumers. But the companies countered that the government had failed to make its case.
UTC gains EU antitrust approval to buy Rockwell Collins. U.S. aerospace and industrial company United Technologies Corp secured conditional EU approval on Friday for its $23 billion bid for avionics maker Rockwell Collins, the largest aerospace deal in history. The European Commission, which acts as the competition watchdog in the European Union, said UTC agreed to sell businesses making actuators, pilot controls, ice protection and oxygen systems. The European Commission said concessions offered by UTC addressed its concerns about the deal, confirming a Reuters report on May 2.