The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
JetBlue, Spirit slam ‘speculative’ consumer lawsuit fighting $3.8 billion merger. JetBlue and Spirit in U.S. court called a consumer lawsuit over the airlines’ merger plan “vague” and “speculative” and said it should be rejected as the U.S. Justice Department pursues a case against the $3.8 billion deal. In a filing in Massachusetts federal court, defense attorneys for the airlines asked U.S. District Judge William Young to rule that the 25 plaintiffs who last year sued to stop the deal do not have legal standing to stay in court. The consumer plaintiffs’ “generalized” claim that the merger will harm them as air travelers isn’t enough to sustain a challenge against a specific merger, attorneys for JetBlue and Spirit said.
NFL tells US judge no evidence supports ‘Sunday Ticket’ antitrust trial. The National Football League and its teams have asked a U.S. judge to find there is no evidence to justify holding a multibillion-dollar trial alleging the exclusive “Sunday Ticket” package of televised games violates U.S. antitrust law. In a key pretrial filing, lawyers for the NFL argued in a Los Angeles federal court that residential and commercial subscribers had failed to prove the league’s licensing agreement for Sunday Ticket harmed competition. The plaintiffs, seeking $6 billion in damages, argue the NFL’s business arrangement with DirecTV has artificially inflated the price of Sunday Ticket, which provides out-of-market Sunday afternoon games that are not otherwise available for free on certain national broadcasters.
Bidding for Simon & Schuster Draws to a Close. The sale of Simon & Schuster appears to be nearing a suspenseful conclusion, like the final chapter of a page-turner from one of the country’s largest and most prestigious publishing houses. Second-round bids for Simon & Schuster — which publishes boldface names like Stephen King — were due, according to three people familiar with the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the confidential sale process. Two of them said the remaining bidders included KKR, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, and News Corp, the owner of HarperCollins, a competing publishing house. The last time the publisher went on the block, rival Penguin Random House agreed to pay $2.2 billion, but the Department of Justice stymied that deal on antitrust grounds.
Edited by Gary J. Malone