The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Microsoft starts a charm offensive to push through its Activision deal. Microsoft kicked off a charm offensive in Washington to gain government approval for its $70 billion deal to buy the video game company Activision Blizzard, saying it would not give preferential treatment to its own games in its app stores. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, and Brad Smith, its president, said at a news conference in Washington that they planned to meet officials to discuss the deal. Mr. Smith said he had been “sharing where we’re going with members of Congress” and that the company had been “meeting with people in the think tank community and the like.” Regulators are expected to give Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision — the largest in Microsoft’s history — a tough review.
EU’s Vestager says analysing metaverse ahead of possible regulatory action. European Union authorities need to better understand the futuristic digital world known as the ‘metaverse’ before they can decide how to regulate it, the bloc’s antitrust chief said. The metaverse involves a network of virtual environments accessed via different devices where users can work, socialize and play. It has come into sharper focus since Facebook changed its name to Meta last October to reflect its bet on the new sector. That move has in turn triggered concerns about Facebook’s possible dominance.
Frontier to buy Spirit Airlines in $2.9 bln budget carrier deal. Budget carriers Frontier Group Holdings and Spirit Airlines Inc unveiled plans to create the fifth-largest U.S. airline in a $2.9 billion tie-up likely to tighten competition against traditional carriers. The proposal to form a new no-frills carrier controlled by Frontier Airlines pushed up shares of Spirit as much as 18.7%, though several analysts pressed the airlines over possible difficulties in obtaining regulatory approval. The move comes at a time when the U.S. airline industry is grappling with volatility in travel demand due to new COVID-19 variants. At the same time, costs are soaring on a combination of rises in wages, fuel prices and airport charges.
Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia clears antitrust scrutiny. Discovery and AT&T cleared a significant regulatory hurdle that put the two companies on a glide path to close a deal to combine Discovery and WarnerMedia in the next two or three months. The merger “satisfied the closing condition” as part of an antitrust review by the Department of Justice, Discovery said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. When closed, the deal will create one of the biggest media companies in the country, combining the assets of HBO, Warner Bros. television and film studios, and the sports-heavy TNT and TBS networks with Discovery’s enormous library of nonfiction programming, which includes Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, HGTV, the Food Network and Animal Planet.
Edited by Gary J. Malone