Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Big banks win dismissal in U.S. of bond rigging lawsuit. A U.S. judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit by investors that accused nine big banks of rigging the roughly $9 trillion government agency bond market from 2005 to 2015. In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan said the investors failed to show they were injured by conducting any specific transactions in U.S. dollar-denominated supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds that were tainted by the alleged collusion. Investors led by the Iron Workers Pension Plan of Western Pennsylvania and the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern California said the banks used chatrooms and other means to share pricing data and coordinate trading to boost profit, infecting “each and every” transaction.
German Antitrust Watchdog Plans Action on Facebook This Year. Germany’s antitrust watchdog expects to take first steps this year in its probe against Facebook after finding that the social media giant abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their knowledge or consent. The probe is being closely watched in Europe amid mounting concerns over leaks of data on tens of millions of Facebook users, as well as the extensive use of targeted ads by foreign powers seeking to influence elections in the United States. The Federal Cartel Office objects in particular to how Facebook acquires data on people from third-party apps – including its own WhatsApp and Instagram services – and its online tracking of people who aren’t even members.
UK to consider proposals to curb Big Four auditors – industry official. Britain’s competition watchdog is expected to formally consider proposals from top accountants to curb the market share of the “Big Four” auditors, a senior industry official said on Wednesday. Michael Izza, chief executive of the ICAEW, a professional accounting body, said he and other industry officials met with Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) staff to present ideas to increase auditor choice for companies.
EU clears $3.9 billion P&G deal for German Merck’s consumer health business unit. EU antitrust regulators have approved Procter & Gamble’s 3.4 billion euro ($3.9 billion) acquisition of Merck KGaA’s consumer health unit, saying that they had no competition concerns. The takeover would add vitamin brands such as Seven Seas to a P&G portfolio that includes Pampers diapers and Gillette razors while boosting its presence in Latin America and Asian markets. The sector has undergone a wave of consolidation in recent years as companies bulk up product ranges and businesses in other markets, but the European Commission said that a preliminary review of the deal found no serious issues.