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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  April 12, 2022

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


Bidding War for Spirit Could Undercut Power of Four Big Airlines.  When the dust settled on a big round of airline consolidation nearly a decade ago, four large companies came to dominate the industry. A new merger scramble could challenge that cozy arrangement. A brewing fight over the future of the budget carrier Spirit Airlines may give rise to a credible, albeit still smaller, competitor to the industry’s giants. In February, Frontier Airlines and Spirit announced plans to merge, promising to create a national budget airline that would help keep fares low. JetBlue Airways this week made its own bid, of $3.6 billion, for Spirit, which said that it would consider the proposal. Whether Spirit ends up merging with Frontier or JetBlue, the combined company could pose a more formidable threat to the nation’s four largest airlines — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines — which have a combined 66 percent share of the domestic market.


EXCLUSIVE Big online firms face 0.1% supervisory fee under new EU rules.  Major online platforms face a yearly fee up to 0.1% of annual net income to cover the costs of monitoring compliance with new European Union rules requiring them to do more to police their content, an EU document shows. The Digital Services Act (DSA) rules are likely to be agreed between EU countries and lawmakers later this month. Levying such a fee would be a first for the European Commission, which is the bloc’s executive body. The move comes as the Commission seeks new sources of revenue to fire up the region’s economic growth in the wake of the pandemic and also foster a greener and more digital economy.


Antitrust Division Updates Its Leniency Policy.  The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division announced updates to its Leniency Policy and issued a revised set of frequently asked questions (FAQs). The Antitrust Division also launched a new dedicated email address to make it easier for companies and individuals to apply for leniency. The Antitrust Division Leniency Policy allows the first individual or company to self-report its involvement in an antitrust cartel to avoid prosecution if it cooperates with the Division’s investigation and prosecutions, and meets other conditions. The updated policy now also requires that a corporate applicant promptly self-report after discovering its wrongful conduct and undertake remedial measures to prevent reoffending.


Edited by Gary J. Malone