The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
E.U. Fines Mastercard $650 Million Over Fees Merchants Were Forced to Pay. The European Commission has fined Mastercard 571 million euros, or around $650 million, for breaching antitrust rules by raising payment-processing fees artificially, leading to higher prices for retailers and consumers. The penalty, announced on Tuesday after a six-year investigation by European antitrust regulators, involves the fees banks charge merchants when purchases are made with credit cards. Mastercard, regulators said, forced merchants to use only banks in their home countries when processing payments, a requirement that prevented them from shopping for lower fees at banks in other European countries. The retailers passed the cost of the higher fees on to consumers, leaving them to pay more for their purchases, the commission said.
Siemens, Alstom sweeten EU antitrust concessions, maybe too late. Siemens and Alstom up concessions aimed at allaying EU antitrust concerns about their rail merger deal, a person familiar with the matter said, in a belated and possibly futile move to stave off an EU veto against the deal. German company Siemens and French peer Alstom have said their deal aims to help them better deal with China’s state-owned CRRC Corp Ltd., an assertion dismissed by the European Commission. The companies, which offered to license parts of Siemens’s high-speed train business and sell parts of their signaling operations, are now prepared to share Siemens’ high-speed train technology for 10 years instead of five in Europe, the source said.
Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger — asserting his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandal. The services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified, said four people involved in the effort. That will bring together three of the world’s largest messaging networks, which between them have more than 2.6 billion users, allowing people to communicate across the platforms for the first time. The move has the potential to redefine how billions of people use the apps to connect with one another while strengthening Facebook’s grip on users, raising antitrust, privacy and security questions.