The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
E.U. Fines Google $5.1 Billion in Android Antitrust Case. European authorities fined Google a record $5.1 billion on Wednesday for abusing its power in the mobile phone market and ordered the company to alter its practices, in one of the most aggressive regulatory actions against American technology giants and one that may force lasting changes to smartphones. The European Union’s antitrust fine of 4.34 billion euros was almost double the bloc’s fine against Google last year over the company’s unfair favoring of its own services in internet search results. The penalty’s size highlighted Europe’s increasingly bold stance against the power of American tech firms, even as officials in the United States have taken a largely hands-off approach to the companies.
Qualcomm disappointed with continuing EU probe into pricing case. U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm on Thursday expressed disappointment with EU antitrust regulators’ decision to continue an investigation in a case where it has been accused of charging below cost prices to stymy British phone software maker Icera. “While the investigation has been narrowed, we are disappointed to see it continues and will immediately begin preparing our response to this supplementary statement of objections,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement.
Comcast concedes to Disney in bidding war for Fox assets. Comcast Corp. dropped its $66 billion bid for Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets on Thursday but said it would still try to expand its international footprint by acquiring 61 percent of European broadcaster Sky Plc, the remainder of which is owned by Fox. Comcast’s withdrawal is a concession to Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), which last month sweetened its offer for the Fox assets to $71.3 billion, in a bid to unite two storied Hollywood studios and several television networks under one corporate umbrella.
U.S. Tech Enforcer Says Will Read ‘Closely’ EU Statement on Google. The head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has investigated Alphabet’s Google in the past for abuse of web dominance, said on Wednesday he would take a close look at Europe’s recent decision to fine the company 4.34 billion euros ($5 billion). Speaking at a hearing in Capitol Hill, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said he had spoken on Tuesday with EU antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. “We’re going to read what the EU put out very closely,” Simons told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.