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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  September 14, 2020

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

SoftBank Said to Be Near Deal to Sell British Chip Designer Arm.  SoftBank is near a deal to sell the British chip designer Arm to Nvidia, two people briefed on the matter said on Saturday, which would raise billions for the Japanese technology investor and create a powerhouse in the semiconductor industry. The two sides are close to an agreement for a cash-and-stock transaction whose price could potentially be more than $40 billion, these people said. A deal could be announced within days, though these people cautioned that final details have yet to be ironed out, and the talks could still fall apart. A transaction — which would be one of the biggest announced so far this year — could also raise concerns from antitrust regulators around the world and from customers of Arm’s chip designs, which drive the majority of the world’s smartphones, including the iPhone.

Apple seeks damages from ‘Fortnite’ creator in App Store dispute.  Apple Inc on Tuesday filed counter claims against “Fortnite” creator Epic Games asking for lost App Store fees and other damages, and seeking an order to stop the game maker from operating its own in-app payment system. Apple and Epic have been in a legal battle since August, when the maker of the popular game launched its own in-app payment system to circumvent what it called Apple’s monopolistic practices. Apple’s App Store requires developers to use Apple’s payment system and pay a 30% commission. Apple blocked Epic’s ability to distribute updates or new apps through the App Store, and Epic sued Apple alleging that its App Store practices violate antitrust laws. The court allowed Apple to block Epic from distributing new titles as the case plays out, but the existing version of “Fortnite” still works, as does Epic’s payment system.

EU resumes LSE, Refinitiv deal probe, decision by December 16.  EU antitrust regulators have set a new Dec. 16 deadline for their decision on the London Stock Exchange’s $27 billion takeover of data company Refinitiv after resuming their investigation into the deal. The European Commission had temporarily halted scrutiny of the deal in July while waiting for the companies to provide data it had requested. The EU’s competition regulator has voiced concerns that a combination of LSE’s bond-trading platform MTS and Refinitiv, which owns bond platform Tradeweb, would have a large market share in European government bond trading.

UPDATE 1-Worldline offers EU concessions over $9.2 bln Ingenico deal.  French payments company Worldline has offered concessions in a bid to gain EU antitrust approval for its 7.8-billion-euro ($9.2 billion) acquisition of rival Ingenico, a European Commission filing showed on Thursday. The move by Worldline, once part of Atos, could help it stave off a full-scale, four-month investigation by the EU competition enforcer. The Commission, which did not provide details in line with its policy, extended its deadline for a decision to Sept. 30. It is now expected to seek feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept the concessions, demand more or launch an investigation.