Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Apple to gain unconditional EU approval for Shazam buy: sources. Apple is set to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for its planned acquisition of British music discovery app Shazam, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The deal, announced in December last year, would help the iPhone maker better compete with Spotify, the industry leader in music streaming services. Shazam identifies songs when a smartphone is pointed at an audio source.
Linde-Praxair try to save $83 billion merger after antitrust blow. Industrial gases giants Linde and Praxair are in talks to try to salvage their $83 billion merger after U.S. competition regulators demanded they sell assets that generate more than $4.3 billion in sales. Linde said on Wednesday the divestments were expected to reach a level that would allow either party to abandon the deal, although the German company added that talks continued with both Praxair and regulators. Analysts said they still expected the deal to go ahead, though they cautioned the asset sales could make the deal less attractive and/or make synergy targets harder to achieve.
Antitrust Battle Next For Cigna After Shareholders Approve Express Scripts Deal. Cigna and Express Scripts shareholders Friday approved the insurer’s acquisition of the pharmacy benefit manager, leaving the deal in the hands of antitrust regulators as the merger’s next key hurdle. Once billionaire investor Carl Icahn backed off his effort to derail the deal, shareholder approval became a formality given key proxy advisors gave the merger their blessing. But it’s less clear whether the merger will win approval of federal regulators with an influential Republican member of Congress calling for the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division to conduct a “rigorous review” of both the Cigna-Express Scripts merger and CVS Health’s proposed purchase of Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer.
Japan Pushing to End Smartphone Bundling, Cut Wireless Fees: Source. Japan is aiming to force wireless carriers to cut their monthly fees and stop bundling the cost of smartphones with wireless services, a senior telecoms ministry source said on Tuesday, in a move that is likely to hit Apple Inc. Japan’s top wireless carriers, NTT Docomo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Group Corp, typically provide phones without upfront charges as part of fixed-term contracts that can cost as much as 10,000 yen ($90.51) a month. Customers effectively pay for handsets in installments. The government, which sees these contracts as muddying the cost of handsets and mobile fees and creating barriers for entry, wants carriers to charge separately for phones, the senior telecoms ministry source told Reuters.