The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Facebook Faces a Big Penalty, but Regulators Are Split Over How Big. Facebook’s announcement in late April that it had set aside $3 billion to $5 billion to settle claims that it mishandled users’ personal data suggested a strong consensus by federal regulators that the social media giant needed to be held accountable. But the reality behind the scenes at the Federal Trade Commission is far more complicated, reflecting the politics and give-and-take of the negotiations. The F.T.C.’s five commissioners agreed months ago that they wanted to pursue a historic penalty that would show the agency’s teeth. But now, the members are split on the size and scope of the tech company’s punishment, according to three people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
U.S. Justice Department asks for hearing in Qualcomm antitrust case. The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division asked a federal judge on Thursday to hold a hearing on any possible remedies to be imposed if mobile chip supplier Qualcomm Inc. is found liable in an antitrust lawsuit brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The Justice Department’s filing asked Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California to hold a hearing on any possible remedies if she finds Qualcomm liable for antitrust violations and argued that “a remedy should work as little injury as possible to other public policies,” according to the filing. The Justice Department said that any penalties Judge Koh might impose should not hamper the market for 5G, the next generation of mobile networks that are expected to be up to 100 times faster than current networks.
Sprint, T-Mobile push back deadline to complete merger. T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. extended the deadline for completing their proposed $26 billion deal to July 29 as the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division chief said he had not decided whether to approve the transaction. T-Mobile announced the extension in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The companies are working to win approval from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission. The No. 3 and No. 4 wireless providers announced their proposed merger on April 29, 2018.
European Union accepts commitments by Mastercard and Visa to cut inter-regional interchange fees. The European Commission has made commitments offered by Mastercard and Visa legally binding under EU antitrust rules. The companies will significantly reduce (on average by around 40%) their multilateral interchange fees for payments in the EEA with consumer cards issued elsewhere.