The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Biden’s executive order to promote competition in the U.S. economy includes over 70 initiatives. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order that includes 72 initiatives he wants over a dozen agencies to undertake to promote competition throughout the U.S. economy, according to a fact sheet released by the White House. The order goes after corporate monopolies across a broad swath of industries and specifically directs antitrust agencies to focus their enforcement efforts in the labor, healthcare, technology and agriculture sectors. “Inadequate competition holds back economic growth and innovation,” the White House fact sheet said. The rate of new business formation has fallen by almost 50% since the 1970s as large businesses make it harder for Americans with good ideas to break into markets, the White House said citing research from the Economic Innovation Group.
EU fines Volkswagen, BMW $1 bln for emissions cartel. The European Commission fined German carmakers Volkswagen and BMW a total of 875 million euros ($1 billion) on Thursday for colluding to curb the use of emissions cleaning technology they had developed. The case, separate to the so-called ‘Dieselgate’ scandal over software designed to cheat on vehicle emissions tests, sets a precedent by extending the application of European competition law to technical-level talks between industry players. In this case, talks held a decade ago centred on design standards for AdBlue, an additive used to cleanse nitrogen oxide from the exhaust gases produced by diesel-powered cars. “This is a first,” European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager told a news conference in Brussels. “We have never had a cartel whose purpose was to restrict the use of novel technology.”
Aon wins EU nod for $30 bln Willis deal, with conditions. EU antitrust regulators on Friday cleared with conditions Aon’s $30 billion bid for Willis Towers Watson after it agreed to divest key parts of Willis’ business to rival Arthur J. Gallagher in return for the EU green light. The deal will put London-headquartered Aon ahead of the world’s largest insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc and comes as insurers struggle with rising claims and new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. The European Commission said the asset sales will make Arthur J. Gallagher a credible rival to the combined company.
Edited by Gary J. Malone