The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
AT&T Antitrust Win May Herald New Wave of Media Mergers. Brace yourself for a likely new era of media megamergers. AT&T’s victory over the government’s attempt to block its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner underscores just how much the way people watch — and pay for — TV has changed. It also highlights how corporate America wants to adapt to deal with its new environment. In short: Bigger is better.
Trump gets win at U.S. Supreme Court in China antitrust case. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration and against China on Thursday on a disputed aspect of their fraught trade relationship, throwing out a lower court ruling that had allowed two Chinese vitamin C makers to escape $148 million in damages for violating American antitrust law. In a case that brought the trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies before the top U.S. court, the justices ruled 9-0 that the lower court gave too much deference to Chinese government filings explaining China’s regulatory policy. The justices sent the case back for reconsideration by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2016 threw out the damages won by two American companies that buy vitamin C.
Comcast’s Pursuit of Fox Will Face Hurdles, Despite AT&T’s Victory. In the coming days, Comcast will most likely unveil its takeover bid for most of 21st Century Fox, challenging The Walt Disney Company for the same Fox entertainment assets. Fox had turned down Comcast last year, worried that the cable giant’s bid — even though it was much higher than Disney’s — could be blocked by regulators. But that concern was lessened on Tuesday afternoon when a federal judge approved AT&T’s $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner. While AT&T’s victory over the Justice Department means that Comcast now faces fewer regulatory issues in its pursuit of Fox, obstacles remain.
Apple, Qualcomm battle over possible ban on some U.S. iPhone imports. The staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday recommended that a trade judge find that Apple Inc. infringed at least one of Qualcomm Inc.’s patents, a move that could lead to blocking the import of some iPhones. The San Diego chipmaker filed a complaint against Apple nearly a year ago, asking the commission to ban the import of iPhones containing rival chipmaker Intel Corp.’s so-called modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks. At a trial in Washington that started on Friday, the ITC staff said Apple violated one of Qualcomm’s patents around battery-saving technology.