The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Aetna, seeking antitrust nod, sells Medicare drug business to WellCare. Health insurer Aetna Inc said on Thursday it will sell its standalone Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans Inc as it seeks U.S. antitrust approval for a planned acquisition by CVS Health Corp. The $69 billion CVS-Aetna deal would be the second large deal this year between insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, a consolidation the companies say will help rein in rising U.S. healthcare costs. CVS said separately that it expects the Aetna acquisition to close in the early part of the fourth quarter of this year.
Law Enforcement Officials Confront Tech Companies’ Power. Top Justice Department officials met with 14 state attorneys general on Tuesday to weigh whether they have the right tools to confront privacy and competition concerns surrounding Facebook, Google and other tech companies that have amassed extraordinary amounts of data about their consumers and advertising markets. Americans increasingly recognize that tech companies wield tremendous power and deserve greater scrutiny, the law enforcement officials said, and they discussed whether traditional approaches to antitrust issues were still suitable for modern disputes over privacy and the tech business model.
Nine state attorneys general back AT&T in Time Warner appeal. A group of nine state attorneys general on Wednesday backed AT&T Inc as the Justice Department asks a federal appeals court to reverse approval of the company’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. It “is rare for the federal government to pursue an antitrust case involving major, national companies without any state joining the effort,” the nine state officials said in a court filing, noting that no states have filed briefs supporting the Justice Department’s appeal.
EU regulators to decide by October 26 on Sony’s $2.3 billion bid for EMI. Sony Corp will know by Oct. 26 whether EU antitrust regulators will wave through its $2.3 billion offer for control of EMI to become the world’s largest music publisher, according to a filing on the European Commission website. Sony, which announced the deal in May, is seeking EU approval for the deal. The proposed acquisition is the boldest strategy move by its new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, which would give it rights to 2.1 million songs from artists such as Drake, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams and Sia.