The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Epic Games opposes Apple’s effort to pause antitrust trial orders. “Fortnite” creator Epic Games on Friday opposed Apple Inc’s efforts to put on hold orders handed down in an antitrust trial as a potentially lengthy appeals process plays out. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in September struck down some of the iPhone maker’s anti-steering App Store rules, including a prohibition on developers directing their users to other payment options beside Apple’s in-app payment system, in a partial win for Epic and other app makers. Apple has until Dec. 9 to comply with the injunction, but earlier this month the company said it will appeal the ruling and asked Gonzalez Rogers to put her order on hold as the appeals process, which could take more than a year, unfolds. Epic on Friday argued in a court filing that Apple has not met the legal standard for that pause, which requires Apple show that it will be irreparably harmed by even temporarily complying with the order if the injunction is later reversed on appeal.
Former security services executives plead guilty to rigging bids for U.S. security contracts. Two former employees of security company G4S Secure Solutions NV pleaded guilty to criminal antitrust charges stemming from their involvement in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices, and allocate customers for defense-related security services contracts, the U.S. Justice Department said. “Bart Verbeeck, former director of sales, and Robby Van Mele, former director of operations, admitted that they, with their co-conspirators at competing firms, colluded to allocate security services contracts and to fix the prices at which the firms bid for contracts”, the DOJ said in a statement. Both defendants are Belgian nationals residing in Belgium. The allocated contracts included those for guarding, mobile monitoring, and surveillance services with the United States, through the Department of Defense, and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Communications and Information Agency.
EXCLUSIVE U.S. slows down oil and gas mergers-sources. U.S. antitrust regulators have extended the approval process for at least five oil and gas mergers and acquisitions in the last three months, as President Joe Biden’s administration scrutinizes deals in a bid to tackle soaring energy prices, according to regulatory filings and corporate lawyers. The slowdown comes amid growing pressure on policymakers to respond to consumer angst over skyrocketing retail gasoline prices, as U.S. crude futures hit multi-year highs. The White House has been calling U.S. oil and gas producers to ask how they can help lower prices, Reuters reported last week. The move is also emblematic of a new push by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumers, workers, the environment and society at large. Under its new chair Lina Khan, the antitrust regulator has taken a tough stance on deals ranging from technology to healthcare.
U.S. lawmakers say Facebook cannot be trusted to manage cryptocurrency. A group of U.S. lawmakers said Facebook Inc cannot be trusted to manage cryptocurrency and urged the social media platform to discontinue immediately a small pilot of its cryptocurrency wallet named Novi, which was launched on Tuesday. U.S. Democratic senators Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith voiced their opposition to Facebook’s two-year-old effort to launch a cryptocurrency and digital wallet. “Facebook is once again pursuing digital currency plans on an aggressive timeline and has already launched a pilot for a payments infrastructure network, even though these plans are incompatible with the actual financial regulatory landscape,” the senators wrote in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.
Edited by Gary J. Malone