The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Apple’s App Store Draws Antitrust Scrutiny in European Union. Apple’s App Store helped usher in the smartphone economy, leading to the birth of now-ubiquitous services such as Instagram, Uber and Candy Crush, and providing a transformative new way for people to shop from their phones. But for companies that wanted to offer their products through Apple’s digital store, there has always been a catch: To reach customers, they had to agree to Apple’s terms and conditions, including sharing certain data with the company and giving it a percentage of any future sales made through the iPhone or iPad app. Now European regulators are questioning whether Apple’s terms go too far. On Tuesday, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said it had opened a formal antitrust investigation to determine if the terms that Apple imposes on app developers violate competition rules.
EU puts up barricade plan for state-backed foreign buyers. State-backed foreign firms will have a harder time buying European Union companies under a proposal by the bloc’s executive, which is pursuing more protectionist policies as the global pandemic tips the region into a steep recession. New measures were needed because the existing foreign direct investment screening rules and trade defense measures were not enough to ward off a potential post-coronavirus buying spree of cheap assets, the European Commission said. The EU fears foreign subsidies may be used to grow market share or underbid European rivals to gain access to strategically important markets or critical infrastructure.
Former Bumble Bee C.E.O. Is Sentenced in Tuna Price-Fixing Scheme. The former president and chief executive of Bumble Bee Foods was sentenced to 40 months in jail and a $100,000 fine on Tuesday for his role in a yearslong conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna, the Department of Justice said. The former executive, Christopher Lischewski, was the leader of the scheme, the authorities said. It involved three other executives who pleaded guilty and testified against Mr. Lischewski. The scheme affected over $600 million worth of canned tuna sales, according to prosecutors.
EU worried Fiat-PSA deal may hit competition in vans. Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA’s proposed merger may harm competition in small vans in 14 EU countries and Britain, EU antitrust regulators said on Wednesday as they opened a four-month investigation into the deal. The two carmakers want to create the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker to help offset slowing demand and share the cost of making cleaner vehicles to meet tougher emissions regulations. The deal will put the Italian-American carmaker’s brands including Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Maserati and the French company’s Peugeot, Opel and DS all under one roof.
Edited by Gary Malone