The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Justice Dept. and Penguin Random House’s sparring over merger has begun. A federal judge began a trial that will decide whether Penguin Random House is allowed to buy Simon & Schuster, a case that could significantly affect the book publishing industry and that will test the Biden administration’s efforts to expand antitrust enforcement. The $2.18 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster would expand Penguin Random House, which is already the largest book publisher in America, and eliminate one of the other “Big Five” book houses. The industry has already undergone a fair amount of consolidation, with Penguin Random House, owned by the German company Bertelsmann, itself the product of a 2013 merger. The case is also an early test of the Biden administration’s efforts to take on more boundary-pushing antitrust cases, in this instance, one arguing that corporate concentration is bad for workers, including book authors.
Apple is sued by French app developers over app store fees. Apple Inc was sued by French app developers that accused the iPhone maker of violating U.S. antitrust law by overcharging them to use its app store. The plaintiffs in the proposed class action include Société du Figaro, which develops the Figaro news app; L’Équipe 24/24, which develops the L’Équipe sports news and streaming app, and Le Geste, an association of French content providers. According to the complaint filed in the federal court in Oakland, California, Apple has abused its monopoly power over app distribution on iOS-based mobile devices by mandating only one app store for those devices.
Bayer says arbitration ruling over BASF claims is imminent. Bayer’s chief executive said an arbitration court would soon decide on claims brought by rival BASF , saying it overpaid for assets that Bayer sold to secure antitrust clearance for the takeover of Monsanto. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told analysts in a call that the ruling was expected “shortly” and that there was hardly any potential to seek recourse should Bayer disagree with the verdict. BASF in 2019 took Bayer to a previously agreed arbitration court, claiming that Bayer had not fully disclosed personnel costs when it negotiated the sale of two assets bundles.
Edited by Gary J. Malone