The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Democratic lawmaker re-introduces bills to strengthen antitrust. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said on Friday that she had re-introduced two bills aimed at strengthening enforcement of U.S. antitrust law. One of the bills would adjust fees paid to the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department’s Antitrust Division for merger reviews, raising fees on bigger deals while smaller deals would pay less. Klobuchar also introduced a bill to toughen standards for reviewing mergers. Under that bill, companies planning some large mergers would be required to show that their deal would not materially harm competition. Under current law, it is the government that must show that the deal would “substantially” harm competition.
E.U. Suspects 8 Banks of Colluding on Bond Sales. The European Commission said Thursday that it was investigating eight unnamed banks for operating as a cartel in the buying and selling of European government bonds from 2007 to 2012. Traders at individual banks exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated trading strategies mainly in online chat rooms, the commission said. Their communication could have distorted the competition for sovereign bonds, issued by the governments of eurozone countries, it said.
U.S. FCC faces tough questions from court on net neutrality repeal. A federal appeals court asked pointed questions of the Federal Communication Commission on Friday in hearing a challenge to whether the Trump administration acted legally when it repealed landmark net neutrality rules governing internet providers in December 2017. The panel heard more than four hours of arguments in the first court hearing on the FCC’s controversial decision to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 rules, which barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes. The arguments focused on how internet providers should be classified under law – either as information service providers as the Trump administration decided or as a public utility, which subjects companies to more rigorous regulations – and whether the FCC adhered to procedural rules in dismantling the Obama-era rules.
U.S. House panels to hold joint hearing on Sprint, T-Mobile merger. Two U.S. House panels will hold a joint hearing on Feb. 13 on T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp.’s proposed $26 billion merger and its potential impact on consumers. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee will hold a joint hearing to “examine the merger’s potential impacts on consumers, workers and the wireless industry,” the committees said in a statement on Monday. Both T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere and Sprint Chairman Marcelo Claure have agreed to testify.