The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Explainer: Antitrust law won’t get in the way of U.S. acting to raise oil prices. It is illegal for oil producers to meet to discuss pushing up oil prices under U.S. antitrust law, but perfectly legal if state regulators or the federal government set lower production levels for them, U.S. antitrust experts said on Friday. That said, the decision by a Texas state official to talk with Saudi Arabia and Russia about supporting oil prices marks a sharp contrast with U.S. policy. A year ago President Donald Trump tweeted that OPEC needed to “increase the flow of oil. World Markets are fragile, price of Oil getting too high.” A two-thirds drop in oil prices in the last three months has swiftly changed Washington’s thinking on whether or not it should meddle in the energy market.
Feds Seek Breakup of Altria-Juul Deal on Antitrust Grounds. U.S. business regulators are suing to break up the multibillion-dollar deal between tobacco giant Altria and e-cigarette startup Juul Labs, saying their partnership amounted to an agreement not to compete in the U.S. vaping market. The action announced late Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission is the latest legal headwind against Altria’s investment in the embattled vaping company. Juul sales have been sliding for months amid state and federal investigations, lawsuits and flavor restrictions aimed at curbing the recent explosion in teen vaping.
Apple will stop taking cut of some Amazon video purchases on App Store. Apple Inc. said on Wednesday it would stop taking a cut of some sales for “qualifying” streaming video services on iPhones and other Apple devices, including Amazon.com’s Prime Video. To make purchases inside apps on its App Store, Apple requires the use of Apple’s own payment systems and takes a commission of between 15% and 30% before passing on the rest to the third-party app developer. Many of Apple’s rivals in streaming music and video, such as Netflix Inc and Spotify Technology SA, avoid paying those commissions by asking users to sign up with a credit card outside the App Store. That leaves those rivals’ apps serving as log-in screens for existing customers.
Mylan offers concessions to address EU concerns about Pfizer deal. Generic drugmaker Mylan NV has offered concessions to address European Union antitrust concerns about its bid for Pfizer’s off-patent branded drugs business Upjohn, a filing on the European Commission site showed. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer announced the deal in July as part of a strategy allowing it to focus on its more profitable newer medicines. The European Commission set an April 22 deadline for its decision after Mylan put in its offer on March 27.
Edited by Gary Malone