The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
U.S. drops price-fixing charges against chicken executives after mistrials. The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal court in Denver to drop price-fixing charges filed against five executives of chicken producing companies after two mistrials in the case focused on competition in the $65 billion poultry sector. The department, however, did not drop charges against five other defendants. Judge Philip Brimmer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado ordered Jonathan Kanter, the head of the U.S. Justice Department Antitrust Division, to appear before him and explain why the case should be retried. This was done “in an effort to streamline the case and conserve the resources of the court, the parties, and the public,” the department said in a court filing.
Lawsuit accusing 10 banks of rigging $23 trillion U.S. Treasury market is dismissed. A federal judge dismissed a long-running antitrust lawsuit accusing 10 of the world’s largest banks of pursuing two interrelated conspiracies to suppress competition in the now $23.2 trillion market for U.S. Treasury securities. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan said the 18 plaintiffs — including pension and retirement funds, banks and companies that traded in Treasuries — failed to address shortcomings he found one year ago when dismissing an earlier version of their proposed class action. Traders accused the banks of colluding from 2007 to 2015 to use chat rooms to swap confidential customer orders and coordinate strategies in a so-called “auction conspiracy.”
EU regulators look to streamline antitrust rules. Regulators are looking to update rules, which target companies abusing their market power and those setting up illegal cartels, to make them more efficient, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said. Under the rules, known as Regulation 1/2003 and in force since 2004, the European Commission has taken on big technology companies and imposed billions of euros in fines. The rules have also allowed the EU competition enforcer to go after car parts cartels, banks’ manipulation of financial benchmarks and other illegal price-fixing groups, putting the EU agency in the forefront of antitrust enforcement.
U.S. Chamber sides with Facebook in antitrust appeal. The powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a brief urging a D.C. appeals court to reject an appeal by a big group of U.S. states to revive their antitrust lawsuit against Meta Platform’s Facebook. The Chamber, along with the Computer and Communications Industry Association and Business Roundtable, argued that the district court judge hearing the case was right to toss it out because the states had waited too long to file their case. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last July dismissed the states’ lawsuit against Facebook, saying they delayed in challenging the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Edited by Gary J. Malone