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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  April 18, 2023

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


U.S. Supreme Court empowers bids to curb authority of federal agencies.  The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier to challenge the regulatory power of federal agencies in two important rulings backing Axon Enterprise Inc’s bid to sue the Federal Trade Commission and a Texas accountant’s gripe with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A 9-0 ruling by the justices revived Axon’s lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the FTC’s structure in a bid to counter an antitrust action related to the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s acquisition of a rival, overturning a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case. The justices also unanimously upheld a lower court’s decision allowing the accountant, Michelle Cochran, to sue the SEC, challenging the legality of its in-house judges, after the agency faulted her audits of publicly traded companies.  At issue in both cases was whether targets of an agency’s enforcement action may challenge its structure or processes in a federal district court or must first endure the agency’s administrative proceeding. “We now conclude that the review schemes set out in the Exchange Act and the FTC Act do not displace district court jurisdiction over Axon’s and Cochran’s far-reaching constitutional claims,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the ruling.


Federal Reserve green lights UBS-Credit Suisse deal in US.  The Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors said it has approved UBS Group AG’s acquisition of the U.S. subsidiaries of Credit Suisse, clearing another major hurdle for the completion of the Swiss-brokered rescue deal. UBS has committed to give the U.S. central bank an implementation plan for combining its U.S. business and operations with those of Credit Suisse within three months of consummating the deal, the Fed’s Board said in a statement. The plan will include more stringent requirements including liquidity standards for the bank, due to the increased size of the institution, the statement said.


RealPage antitrust lawsuits over rent prices consolidated in Tennessee.  More than 20 lawsuits accusing technology company RealPage Inc of conspiring with multifamily residential property managers to keep rental prices artificially high will be consolidated in Nashville federal court, according to a Monday order from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The lawsuits primarily from renters of multifamily apartments were filed against RealPage and other defendants in Seattle, Boston, Colorado, New York and elsewhere over several months. The complaints allege defendants in the price-fixing scheme used a revenue management software program — made by RealPage — to unlawfully coordinate on pricing and vacancy.


Video gamers renew legal challenge to Microsoft’s Activision bid after setback.  A group of video gamers filed a new legal challenge to Microsoft Corp’s $69 billion bid to buy “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard Inc, after a U.S. judge last month rejected an earlier version of the antitrust lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley dismissed the plaintiffs’ first complaint in March after finding it failed to present enough information to back claims the acquisition would harm industry competition. The judge said at the time the plaintiffs could refile a new suit, which challenges the largest-ever video game industry deal.


Edited by Gary J. Malone