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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  May 17, 2021

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

Bipartisan U.S. bill to raise merger fees for big deals passes Senate panel.  A bill to increase the fees that companies planning the biggest mergers pay to government antitrust agencies and to give those agencies bigger budgets passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday on a voice vote. The bill – co-sponsored by Amy Klobuchar, the top antitrust senator, and Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee – would lower the fee for smaller mergers under $161.5 million from $45,000 to $30,000. But for deals worth $5 billion or more, the fee would rise from $280,000 to $2.25 million. Under the bill, those costs would increase with inflation.

Judge in U.S. case against Facebook delays trial preparation.  The judge in the U.S. government’s antitrust case against Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Tuesday the social media company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit “raises a number of serious challenges” and put the discovery process on hold. In a brief order, Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he expected to rule on the motion to dismiss next month. “Given that Facebook’s motion to dismiss raises a number of serious challenges to the complaint,” the judge wrote in a brief order, it would be premature to exchange documents until he has a chance to decide if some or all of the complaint will be tossed out. Facebook had asked the court to dismiss both lawsuits, one brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by a big group of states, alleging they were brought “in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns.”

U.S. lawmakers vote to send Lina Khan nomination to full Senate.  The Senate Commerce Committee approved Lina Khan’s nomination to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in a voice vote on Wednesday, setting the stage for an advocate of breaking up tech giants to join the agency. Khan, a veteran of the FTC and Capitol Hill who teaches at Columbia Law School, is highly respected by progressive antitrust thinkers who have risen in prominence as they push for tougher antitrust laws or tougher enforcement of existing law. Her nomination was moved forward on a voice vote with four Republicans voting no: Senators Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, Dan Sullivan and Cynthia Lummis.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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