The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
DOJ defends realtor probe despite since-withdrawn settlement. The U.S. Justice Department is arguing in Washington, D.C., federal court that it should be allowed to press its antitrust investigation of National Association of Realtors (NAR) policies and practices despite an earlier, but since withdrawn, settlement. DOJ antitrust enforcers said in a filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the settlement, abandoned in July, was not finalized. They said nothing now stands in the way of a civil subpoena seeking information about agent commission and marketing practices from Chicago-based NAR. “The division never made any commitment to refrain from further investigation of NAR. On the contrary, the division repeatedly stressed that it would not make such a commitment,” DOJ senior counsel James Luh said in the court filing. The Justice Department is investigating NAR rules and policies that enforcement officials said restrict how agents can market properties and how commissions are set.
S&P’s $44 bln IHS deal set to win EU antitrust approval, sources say. Business information provider S&P Global Inc (SPGI.N) is set to secure EU antitrust approval for its $44 billion takeover of IHS Markit Ltd, three people familiar with the matter said, taking it a step closer to becoming a data powerhouse. The deal, announced last November, reflects the consolidation in the financial information services sector as companies race to create one-stop shops to lure the biggest clients and invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning. S&P managed to address the European Commission’s concerns with its offer to sell IHS’ U.S. Oil Pricing Agency Oil Price Information Service and PetroChem Wire businesses, the people said.
Apple warns of cybercrime risks if EU forces it to allow others’ software. Apple Inc ramped up its criticism of EU draft rules that would force it to allow users to install software from outside its App Store, saying that would boost the risk of cybercriminals and malware. But the Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Spotify, Match Group and Epic Games, dismissed Apple’s arguments, saying that built-in security measures such as encrypted data and antivirus programs provide security to iOS apps, which are separate from the App Store. The group wants regulators to loosen Apple’s grip on its App Store so they can bypass it to reach Apple’s hundreds of millions of users and also to avoid paying commissions of up to 30% for purchases made in the Store. Contrary to Apple’s cybersecurity claims, an analysis by the Washington Post shows that nearly two percent of Apple’s top-grossing apps were scams, costing unsuspecting iPhone users tens of millions of dollars.
EU antitrust regulators resume Illumina, Grail probe, decision due by Feb. 4. EU antitrust regulators have resumed their scrutiny of U.S. life sciences company Illumina’s bid for Grail Inc after a two-month temporary halt and will decide by Feb. 4 whether to clear the deal, a European Commission filing showed. The EU competition enforcer paused its investigation on Aug. 11 while waiting for Illumina to provide requested data. It restarted the clock on Oct. 7. Last month it sent a statement of objections to Illumina for closing the deal before securing regulatory clearance, warning of interim measures. read more
Edited by Gary J. Malone