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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  June 29, 2020

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

Facebook Loses Antitrust Decision in Germany Over Data Collection.  In a decision that could further embolden European governments to take on large tech platforms, Germany’s top court ruled on Tuesday that Facebook had abused its dominance in social media to illegally harvest data about its users. The ruling by the Federal Court of Justice, upholding a decision by Germany’s antitrust watchdog, is a major victory for proponents of tougher regulation of the world’s largest technology companies. The case had been closely watched after German regulators used a novel interpretation of competition law to rule against the social media giant last year. The authorities said Facebook broke competition laws by combining data it collected about users across its different platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as from outside websites and third-party apps.

Justice Dept. Officials Outline Claims of Politicization Under Barr.  Two Justice Department officials recounted to Congress in stinging detail on Wednesday how political appointees had intervened in criminal and antitrust cases to advance the personal interests of President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr. Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, a prosecutor who worked on the Russia investigation, told the House Judiciary Committee that senior law enforcement officials had stepped in to overrule career prosecutors and seek a more lenient prison sentence for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. “because of politics.” John W. Elias, a senior career official in the antitrust division, charged that his supervisors improperly used their powers to investigate the marijuana industry and a deal between California and four major automakers at the behest of Mr. Barr.

Peugeot CEO confident Fiat Chrysler merger is on track.  PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares is confident a $50 billion merger of the maker of Peugeot vehicles with Fiat Chrysler will proceed as planned and deliver synergies of at least 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion). The deal to create the world’s fourth-largest carmaker has become even more vital because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis and to speed up cost savings, Tavares told PSA’s (PEUP.PA) annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. “The merger with FCA is the best among the solutions to cope with the crisis and its uncertainties.”

Ryanair complains to EU antitrust watchdog about alleged Lufthansa price-fixing.  Ryanair has filed a complaint to EU antitrust regulators about alleged talks between Lufthansa’s (LHAG.DE) Italian unit Air Dolomiti and three Italian airlines to fix prices, the chief legal officer of Europe’s biggest budget airline said on Thursday. The complaint also cites alleged price fixing in Austria involving Lufthansa’s local unit Austrian Airlines. “I can confirm that the price fixing cartel complaint was filed with the European Commission,” Ryanair’s Juliusz Gomorek told reporters.

Edited by Gary Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues,