The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
As Prices Rise, Biden Turns to Antitrust Enforcers. As rising inflation threatens his presidency, President Biden is turning to the federal government’s antitrust authorities to try to tame red-hot price increases that his administration believes are partly driven by a lack of corporate competition. Mr. Biden has prodded the Agriculture Department to investigate large meatpackers that control a significant share of poultry and pork markets, accusing them of raising prices, underpaying farmers — and tripling their profit margins during the pandemic. As gas prices surged, he publicly encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate accusations that large oil companies had artificially inflated prices, behavior that the administration says continued even after global oil prices began to fall in recent weeks. The turn to antitrust levers stems from Mr. Biden’s belief that rising levels of corporate concentration in the U.S. economy have empowered a few large players in each industry to raise prices higher than a more competitive market would allow.
Microsoft’s $16 billion Nuance bid gets EU antitrust approval. The European Commission granted Microsoft unconditional antitrust approval for its $16 billion bid for artificial intelligence and speech technology company Nuance Communications. The deal is Microsoft’s second biggest after its $26.2 billion LinkedIn purchase in 2016, and would boost its presence in cloud services for healthcare. It has already regulatory approval in the United States and Australia, and Reuters reported earlier this month it was set to receive EU approval.
European Commission grants approval for Discovery acquisition of WarnerMedia. Discovery Inc said the European Commission has granted unconditional antitrust approval to its proposed acquisition of WarnerMedia assets from AT&T Inc. The regulatory approval moves the deal one step closer to being finalized. Discovery has said it expects to complete its WarnerMedia transaction by mid-2022, subject to other regulatory approvals.
Edited by Gary J. Malone