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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  July 19, 2023

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


U.S. appeals court refuses FTC request to pause Microsoft deal for Activision.  A U.S. appeals court rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s request to pause Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard. The decision removes one of the few remaining hurdles stopping Xbox maker Microsoft from closing the deal and expanding its gaming business. The FTC had also asked Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the U.S. District Court in northern California for a similar stay but she rejected that request.


F.T.C. Chair Faces Criticism in Congressional Hearing.  Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, faced more than three hours of criticism and ridicule from Republicans in a House hearing, as emboldened critics increasingly put pressure on the agency for its crackdown on the growing power of tech giants. During the highly partisan hearing, Republicans accused Ms. Khan, who has carried out an aggressive agenda of lawsuits and investigations against tech companies, of “harassing” businesses. In the hearing, Ms. Khan, 34, appeared unruffled. “We fight hard when we believe there was a law violation, and unfortunately things don’t always go our way,” Ms. Khan said.


American Airlines, JetBlue to halt codeshare flights from July 21.  American Airlines and JetBlue Airways said they will begin to wind down their Northeast Alliance on July 21 after a U.S. judge’s order in May that they end the agreement. JetBlue said last week it would terminate the three-year-old alliance, which allowed the two carriers to coordinate flights and pool revenue. Both airlines said starting July 21, American and JetBlue customers will no longer be able to book new codeshare bookings on the other airlines.


EU Commission sticks to US economist pick for senior antitrust job.  The European Commission stuck to its guns, saying it was not reconsidering EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s pick of a U.S. economist to a senior job helping to oversee Big Tech despite criticism from French ministers and EU lawmakers. Fiona Scott Morton, 56, the former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Justice during former President Barack Obama’s tenure, will take up her three-year stint on Sept. 1 when the current chief economist, Pierre Regibeau, retires. She will be the first non-EU national, first U.S. national and first woman for the job.


Edited by Gary J. Malone