The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
The Justice Department sues to block a major insurance brokers’ merger. The Department of Justice filed a civil suit on Wednesday to block the proposed merger of Aon and Willis Towers Watson, arguing that combining two of the Big Three insurance brokers would create an anticompetitive “behemoth.” Many observers thought the government would allow the deal. Regulators in Europe, where both companies also operate, had indicated that they were likely to approve the merger, which would create the world’s largest insurance brokerage. The $30 billion transaction would “eliminate substantial head-to-head competition and likely lead to higher prices and less innovation,” the Justice Department’s complaint says. It says the companies dominate markets for risk and reinsurance brokering, health and pension benefits brokering, actuarial services for employer benefit programs, and private exchanges that offer retiree benefits.
Biden Names Lina Khan, a Big-Tech Critic, as F.T.C. Chair. President Biden named Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said on Tuesday, a signal that the agency is likely to crack down further on the industry’s giants. Earlier in the day, the Senate voted across party lines, 69 to 28, to confirm Ms. Khan as a commissioner. The president may name any commissioner to lead the agency, which investigates antitrust violations, deceptive trade practices and data privacy lapses in Silicon Valley and throughout corporate America.
Two Republican U.S. senators introduce antitrust bill. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Chuck Grassley introduced a bill on Tuesday that would move all antitrust enforcement to the Justice Department, stripping the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission of antitrust authority, Lee’s office said on Monday. The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the FTC currently divide up the work of antitrust enforcement, with the FCC weighing in on telecommunications deals. There is no companion legislation in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats control the evenly divided Senate because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. The measure, introduced by Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Lee, the top Republican on the committee’s antitrust panel, would also ban any merger that results in a market share of more than 66 percent unless needed to prevent “serious harm” to the U.S. economy, according to a summary.
Edited by Gary J. Malone