Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Apple’s Takeover of Shazam Is Cleared by European Regulators. European authorities on Thursday cleared Apple’s acquisition of the popular song-recognition app Shazam, after months of study into whether the deal would give the iPhone maker an unfair advantage over rival streaming music services like Spotify. Apple said in December that it had agreed to buy Shazam, prompting European regulators to scrutinize the proposed takeover as part of a broader effort to examine the value of data when evaluating mergers. In the case of Apple’s deal for Shazam, regulators questioned whether the app held important information on Apple competitors. The focus on data transfer is a departure from typical antitrust enforcement, which tends to zero in on how a deal may affect customers in terms of a product’s cost.
Italian consumer group files complaint over Starbucks prices. Italian consumer group Codacons has filed a complaint with the national competition watchdog accusing Starbucks of overcharging customers at its first cafeteria in the country. The world’s biggest coffee chain is making its first foray into the home of espresso coffee by opening an upmarket roastery in a central Milan square. Customers walking into the converted post office now housing the lavishly decorated cafe will pay 1.80 euros ($2.09) for an espresso, almost twice the normal market price.
Proposal Would Settle Chesapeake Lawsuit for $6.95 Million. A proposed $6.95 million settlement has been filed to end a class-action lawsuit alleging Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy co-founders Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward conspired to rig bids on leases for land to explore for oil and natural gas in northwestern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas. The proposal filed late Wednesday in federal court calls for thousands of people in Oklahoma and Kansas to share in the settlement proceeds, and said it comes after two mediation sessions conducted earlier this year by a retired federal judge in Oklahoma City.
Germany seeks to curb internet giants’ dominance. Germany, seeking to rein in internet giants like Google and Facebook, plans to bolster the powers of its competition watchdog to prevent such companies from becoming monopolies even before they achieve scale. The initiative, announced on Tuesday, could include blocking big players from taking over smaller rivals and follows up on a pledge by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition to curb big U.S. internet companies which, in the eyes of many German lawmakers, have become too powerful.