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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  March 17, 2020

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

France Fines Apple $1.2 Billion for Antitrust Issues.  France’s antitrust regulator on Monday fined Apple 1.1 billion euros, or $1.2 billion, putting more pressure on the company as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak that has threatened its supply chains and closed its retail stores. France’s competition regulator, which had been examining wholesalers who sell Apple’s products in the country, said the company had unfairly divided products and customers between two wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro. The regulator accused Apple of making its wholesalers charge the same prices for products offered in Apple’s own retail stores and abusing its broad economic power over the firms.

Intel says flawed EU antitrust decision underpins $1.2 billion fine.  Intel said EU antitrust regulators got it wrong when they fined the chipmaker 1.06 billion euros ($1.2 billion) more than a decade ago for thwarting a British rival in a case that could affect Google and Qualcomm.  The U.S. company set out its arguments at the General Court in a re-hearing of a case seen as testing the European Commission’s power to go after U.S. tech giants which offer incentives such as rebates to lure customers from competitors. EU antitrust enforcers in 2009 said Intel tried to block Advanced Micro Devices by giving rebates to computer makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their chips from Intel.  The General Court is hearing the case for the second time after the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s highest, in 2017 disagreed with its 2014 ruling backing the Commission’s decision, in a major setback to the EU competition watchdog.

Novelis wins antitrust approval to buy Aleris with conditions.  Novelis Inc won antitrust approval for its proposed $2.6 billion purchase of Aleris Corp on condition it divest part of its auto body supply business, the Justice Department said. The department sued in September to stop the deal to combine two of the four major North American producers of aluminum to make automobile bodies. Instead of going to trial, the department took the dispute to arbitration, where the government prevailed. “As a result, Novelis must divest Aleris’s entire aluminum auto body sheet operations in North America, which will fully preserve competition in this important industry,” the department said in a statement.

College textbook merger raises ‘serious concern’ among U.S. lawmakers.  Two U.S. lawmakers expressed serious concern on Tuesday about the effect of a planned merger of college textbook publishers Cengage Learning Holdings II and McGraw-Hill Education Inc, saying the deal would create a new industry leader with nearly half the market. Representatives David Cicilline, chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, and Jan Schakowsky, chair of an Energy and Commerce consumer protection panel, urged the Justice Department to scrutinize the merger to ensure it is legal under antitrust law.  In the letter, Cicilline and Schakowsky noted how few college textbook makers were left in the market and that prices had risen 184% since 1998.

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues,

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