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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  November 9, 2020

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

EU antitrust chief does not see breakup of tech giants: paper.  Splitting up large tech companies such as Google and Facebook will not be necessary, Europe’s antitrust chief was quoted as saying. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is due to announce new draft rules for the digital sector on Dec. 2 and will then have to reconcile her proposal with those from member countries and the European Parliament.  She said she would propose new powers for enforcers to tackle market failures in digital markets and to stop new ones from emerging.  However, Vestager told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung newspaper that she did not think breaking up the companies would be needed, although the European Union could use this step in an extreme case.

Eight big banks must face U.S. cities’ allegations of municipal bond collusion.  A federal judge said Philadelphia and Baltimore may sue eight big banks for allegedly conspiring to force state and local governments to pay inflated interest rates on a popular type of tax-exempt municipal bond.  U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan said the cities may pursue antitrust claims in the proposed class action over the banks’ marketing of variable-rate demand obligations, once a more than $400 billion market, from 2008 to 2016.  Philadelphia and Baltimore said the collusion reduced available funding for hospitals, power and water supplies, schools, transportation and other essential municipal services.  The defendants included affiliates of Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo & Co.

Stryker wins approval to buy Wright Medical Group from U.S. antitrust regulator.  Medical device maker Stryker Corp has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Wright Medical Group WMGI.O on condition it sell certain assets, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.  The deal, which was valued at about $4 billion when it was announced late last year, was part of a series of consolidations in the medical device industry and would make Stryker one of the market leaders in implants for the treatment of bone fractures as well joint replacements.  To win approval for the deal, the companies agreed that Stryker would sell its businesses that make total ankle replacements, generally used to treat arthritis, and finger joint implants, used to treat advanced arthritis, to DJO Global, the FTC said.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects NFL, DirecTV appeal in TV package suit.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a bid by the National Football League and AT&T Inc’s DirecTV unit to avoid a proposed class-action antitrust lawsuit that accuses them of overcharging for a popular satellite television package.  The NFL and DirecTV had asked the justices to overturn a lower court’s 2019 ruling that revived the suit filed on behalf of subscribers of “Sunday Ticket,” their package that lets NFL fans watch “out-of-market” games not broadcast in their local television markets for $294 a season.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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