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 antitrust official sees more scrutiny for Facebook, others. Facebook and other tech giants may attract more regulatory scrutiny in future because of their market power, a senior EU antitrust official said. Tommaso Valletti, chief economist at the European Commission’s competition unit, rejected calls by some – especially in the United States – for regulators to adopt a hands-off approach to avoid stifling innovation. Unlike internet search engine Google which has been in the EU antitrust crosshairs for close to a decade, Facebook has not drawn the attention of the Commission, the world’s most aggressive competition enforcer.
U.S. Senate panel to hold hearing on Sprint T-Mobile merger. A U.S. Senate committee plans to hold a hearing on June 27 on the proposed $26.5 billion merger of U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile US and Sprint Corp. No witnesses have been announced for the hearing to be held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee that oversees antitrust issues announced on Wednesday. However T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure met with the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month to tout the proposed tie-up and are likely to testify, officials said.
Yelp seeks to revive EU antitrust complaint against Google. Yelp Inc said it has renewed a European antitrust complaint against Alphabet Inc’s Google, seeking to gain traction on a longstanding accusation that the search giant unfairly promotes its own services in results. A similar complaint Yelp filed in 2014 has not led the European Union to issue a formal charge against Google, nor have letters and testimony to U.S. regulators led to charges. But the company said it has strengthened its complaint by looking at the EU’s ruling last year that Google misused its dominance in product shopping search results. Google, which is appealing a $2.9-billion fine in that case, declined to comment.
E.U. Settles With Russia’s Gazprom Over Antitrust Charges. The European Commission said on Thursday that it had reached a settlement with Gazprom, finally concluding a long-running antitrust investigation into the Russian energy giant’s dominance in regional gas markets. Officials in Brussels said the company had accepted a series of concessions, but unlike with competition inquiries into other companies like Google and Intel, it declined to issue any financial penalties. That provoked criticism in countries like Poland, which say they have been squeezed by the energy company in the past, and fear that the deal between Gazprom and the European Commission does not go far enough to prevent similar behavior in the future.