The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Under Pressure: Facebook Faces Antitrust Probes. Facebook has barely shaken off a record $5 billion fine by U.S. regulators over its privacy practices, but it already faces new investigations — not to mention ongoing ones — into potential antitrust violations and other issues. Now, a group of state attorneys generals led by New York’s Letitia James is piling on with its own antitrust investigation into Facebook.
U.S. sues to stop Novelis purchase of Aleris. The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping Novelis Inc.’s proposed $2.6 billion purchase of Aleris Corp. because of concern over higher prices for aluminum sheet used to make cars. The department said in a statement that the deal would combine two of the four major North American producers of aluminum to make automobile bodies. The department described Ohio-based Aleris as an “aggressive competitor” and said the deal would give Novelis up to 60% of projected domestic capacity. Novelis, which is U.S.-based but owned by India’s Hindalco Industries, said in a statement that it remained determined to close the deal by Jan. 21, the outside date for the merger agreement.
EU looking to see if Facebook’s Libra currency poses competition risks. EU regulators are examining Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency to see if it harms competition, Europe’s antitrust regulator said on Wednesday, the latest watchdog to voice concerns about the social network’s move into financial services. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said scrutiny was justified even though the new digital coin, to be backed by four official currencies and available to billions of Facebook’s users around the world, has yet to be launched. “We can even look at new services even before they’re introduced. That’s what we’re doing right now, with Facebook’s plan for a new cryptocurrency, known as Libra, which it announced back in June,” Vestager said in the text of a speech at a conference in Bergen, Norway.