The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Ticketmaster Cast as a Powerful ‘Monopoly’ at Senate Hearing. Live Nation Entertainment, the concert industry giant that owns Ticketmaster, came under withering attack during a Senate Judiciary hearing, with committee members from both parties criticizing it for the botched sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour and calling the company a monopoly that hinders competition and harms consumers. Over nearly three hours, senators pilloried a top Live Nation executive, Joe Berchtold, over the handling of Ms. Swift’s tickets last November and over longstanding allegations that the company badgers its competitors to win new business. Such bullying would be a violation of a Justice Department agreement that set conditions on the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010.
Google says U.S. Justice Department complaint is ‘without merit.’ Alphabet Inc’s Google said it believes the complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice accusing the company of abusing its dominance in digital advertising is “without merit.” The company also added it will “defend itself vigorously.” The government said Google should be forced to sell its ad manager suite, tackling a business that generated about 12% of Google’s revenue in 2021 while also playing a vital role in the search engine and cloud company’s overall sales. Google, which depends on its advertising business for about 80% of its revenue, said the government was “doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”
UK competition watchdog probes $61 bln Broadcom-VMware deal. Britain’s competition regulator said on Wednesday it had started the first phase of an investigation into U.S. chipmaker Broadcom Inc’s $61 billion acquisition of cloud-computing firm VMware Inc. The Competition and Markets Authority said in November it was investigating whether the deal between the two U.S.-listed companies could substantially hurt competition in Britain, adding that it had until March 22 to decide. The Broadcom-VMware deal was one of the biggest announcements globally in 2022, marking the chipmaker’s attempt to diversify into the enterprise software segment.
Sony’s gaming chief met EU’s Vestager on Microsoft’s Activision deal -source. Sony’s gaming chief Jim Ryan met EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to discuss Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) $69 billion bid for “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard, a person familiar with the matter said. The meeting came as the EU competition watchdog prepared to warn Microsoft about the potential anti-competitive effects of the U.S. software giant and Xbox maker’s acquisition in the biggest gaming industry deal in history. Microsoft is looking to Activision to help it compete better with leaders Tencent and Sony. The latter has criticized the deal and even called for a regulatory veto.
Edited by Gary J. Malone