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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  January 11, 2021

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

N.C.A.A. President Seeks Delay on Vote to Let Students Profit From Fame.  The N.C.A.A., confronted with new scrutiny from the Justice Department, on Saturday all but abandoned plans for votes in the coming days that could have allowed student-athletes to profit off their fame, assuredly inflaming a debate that has drawn in governments across the country and convulsed the college sports industry. One of the N.C.A.A.’s most powerful panels had been scheduled to consider new standards on Monday afternoon. But in a letter to the Justice Department on Saturday, the N.C.A.A.’s president, Mark Emmert, said he had “strongly recommended” that the association’s governing bodies wait, effectively stepping back from pledges to lawmakers and others that college sports leaders would act this winter on the issue known as name, image and likeness.

JetBlue is sued for withdrawing fares from booking website.  JetBlue Airways Corp has been sued for allegedly blocking online travel agencies from displaying its fares alongside other carriers’ fares, in an illegal bid to steer travelers to its website and charge more. Fareportal Holdings Inc, which operates the CheapOair and OneTravel websites, is seeking unspecified damages in its antitrust lawsuit filed on Tuesday night in the federal court in Brooklyn. It said JetBlue’s refusal to let it display the carrier’s fares was meant to thwart comparison shopping and enable JetBlue to boost fares along its strongest routes, including to and from New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Florida and Puerto Rico. Fareportal said JetBlue’s more than $1.8 billion of taxpayer support and U.S. Treasury loans to weather the COVID-19 pandemic has cushioned the Long Island City, New York-based carrier’s ability in the near term to lose travelers who book elsewhere.

Argos USA admits to violating U.S. antitrust laws -Justice Department.  Argos USA LLC, a unit of Grupo Argos, has admitted to conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate markets for sales of ready-mix concrete, and agreed to pay $20 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, the department said. The Georgia-based company and other concrete companies were alleged to have organized the conspiracy by dividing up the market in coastal Georgia as well as coordinating on issuing rate-increase letters and charging fuel surcharges, it said. In a statement, Argos said the wrongdoing was committed by “a small number of former employees of a small, local sales office” that joined Argos when it acquired another company.

Exclusive: Alibaba plans $5 billion bond this month amid regulatory scrutiny – sources.  China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd plans to raise at least $5 billion through the sale of a U.S. dollar-denominated bond this month, four people with knowledge of the matter said, amid regulatory scrutiny of co-founder Jack Ma’s empire. Depending on investor response, proceeds could reach $8 billion which the e-commerce leader is likely to use for general corporate expenditure, one of the people said. The fundraising will be a test of investor sentiment towards Alibaba, amid a regulatory crackdown on it and financial technology affiliate Ant Group. Chinese officials have come down hard on Ma’s business empire since he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory system in October setting off a chain of events that resulted in the halting of Ant Group’s $37 billion stock market listing.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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