The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
EU Opens Antitrust Investigation of Air Ticket Distributors. European Union regulators have launched an investigation into flight ticket distribution services on concerns that their agreements with airlines might result in more expensive plane tickets. The EU’s executive Commission said Friday that it has opened an antitrust investigation into Amadeus and Sabre, two major “global distribution systems” for airline tickets. The Commission is examining whether their contracts may restrict airlines and travel agents from using other suppliers. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she’s concerned any possible restrictions “could create carriers to innovation” and push up distribution costs for airlines, “ultimately raising ticket prices for travelers.”
Exclusive: Visa, Mastercard offer tourist card fee cut in EU antitrust probe – sources. Visa and Mastercard have offered to trim the fees merchants pay on card payments by tourists in the European Union in an attempt to stave off possible fines after a long-running antitrust investigation, people familiar with the matter said. Even after the cut, the fees paid by merchants when they accept card payments, a lucrative source of revenue for banks, will still likely be higher than those for EU cards, they said. The European Commission has battled for more than a decade to reduce so-called interchange costs and encourage cross-border trade and online commerce. U.S. regulators have also frowned on such practices.
Exclusive: Three More South Korean Firms Rigged U.S. Military Bids. South Korea’s S-Oil Corp, Hyundai Oilbank Co and Jier Shin Korea Co took part in a bid-rigging scheme that led to more than $100 million in overcharges to the U.S. military, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. The three companies were not named in filings in U.S. federal court in Ohio that described a conspiracy that involved a total of six companies that overcharged U.S. military bases in South Korea for fuel. The South Korea bid-rigging investigation is part of a more aggressive effort by the U.S. Justice Department to crack down on companies that defraud the U.S. government on military contracts.
Citigroup, JPMorgan to pay $182.5 million to settle rate-rigging lawsuit. Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co will pay $182.5 million to settle U.S. investor litigation claiming they violated antitrust law by conspiring with other banks to rig a key European interest rate benchmark. A preliminary settlement addressing the banks’ alleged manipulation of the European Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor, was filed on Wednesday night with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and requires a judge’s approval. Five banks have reached $491.5 million of settlements in the case, including earlier settlements of $170 million by Deutsche Bank AG, $94 million by Barclays Plc and $45 million by HSBC Holdings Plc.