The Antitrust Week In Review
Facebook purchase of Kustomer may face EU antitrust scrutiny. Facebook’s acquisition of customer service startup Kustomer may be subjected to European Union antitrust scrutiny after Austria asked EU enforcers to take over the task, the European Commission said on Tuesday. The move comes as the EU competition regulator girds up to vet more tech, pharma and biotech startup deals, sending a warning about so-called killer acquisitions where firms buy nascent rivals with the goal of shutting them down. The world’s largest social network announced the deal in November, which could help it to scale up its instant messaging app WhatsApp, which has seen usage jumped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
China Fines Alibaba $2.8 Billion in Landmark Antitrust Case. By hitting the e-commerce titan Alibaba with a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine, Chinese officials sent a message to the country’s high-flying internet industry: We’ve got our eyes on you. The penalty imposed on Alibaba, one of China’s most valuable private companies and the bedrock of the business empire of Jack Ma, its most famous tycoon, was the biggest move yet in the government’s campaign to tighten its supervision of tech companies. China’s market watchdog in December began investigating whether Alibaba had broken the country’s antimonopoly law by preventing merchants from selling their goods on other shopping platforms.
After failed takeover, Air Transat seeks help as debt crunch looms. Struggling tour operator Air Transat is in talks with the federal government on aid but may not reach a deal by an April debt deadline, a source close to the situation said, putting pressure on Quebec to ride to the rescue of another troubled aerospace brand in the province. Air Canada dropped its merger plans with Transat, saying European regulators had signaled it was unlikely to pass antitrust concerns. Canada’s largest carrier first bid for Transat in 2019 and discounted its offer last year as the pandemic decimated the travel and tourism sector.
Edited by Gary J. Malone