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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  August 25, 2023

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


American Red Cross spars with US Justice Dept over scope of antitrust law.  The American Red Cross and U.S. Justice Department are quarreling over the scope of U.S. antitrust law, after the federal agency backed a key legal claim from a biomedical company suing the humanitarian group. In a court filing, lawyers for the Red Cross urged a federal judge to disregard a Justice Department “statement of interest” that said the nonprofit is subject to the Sherman Act federal antitrust law and its checks against market power abuses. The dispute is unfolding in a lawsuit against the Red Cross, the country’s largest supplier of blood, by blood-testing company Verax Biomedical. Verax’s complaint in Boston federal court alleges that the Red Cross is using its dominance in the market for blood platelets to squelch competition for anti-contamination services.


Visa’s pricing of token technology under DOJ probe – Bloomberg News.  Visa is under fresh investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations it is charging retailers more for not using the payment firm’s proprietary tokenization technology, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The DOJ’s antitrust probe against Visa, which began in early 2021, is investigating if the company uses anticompetitive practices in the debit card market. The tokenization technology, launched by Visa in 2014, swaps debit card numbers with tokens that can exclusively be used on a particular device or with a merchant, replacing users’ sensitive account information with a unique digital identifier, the report said. Both Visa and rival Mastercard are facing increasing scrutiny for their dominance in the payments market.


US FTC approves deal for natgas producer EQT to buy THQ Appalachia.  EQT Corp, the biggest U.S. natural gas producer, said on Wednesday that it had won antitrust approval to close a deal to buy Quantum Energy-backed THQ Appalachia I LLC and associated infrastructure. The proposed deal, valued at $5.2 billion, had been announced in September 2022. EQT said that the parties had satisfied conditions related to antitrust law and could move forward with closing the transaction. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it had moved to resolve antitrust concerns over the transaction by hammering out a consent order that “prevents entanglements” between Quantum Energy Partners and EQT Corp.


China Scuttles a $5.4 Billion Microchip Deal Led by U.S. Giant Intel. China has effectively scuttled a $5.4 billion deal by Intel, the Silicon Valley semiconductor giant, in the latest sign of the frayed business ties between China and the United States. Intel, which has long had operations in China, said Wednesday that it had “mutually agreed” to terminate a planned merger with Tower Semiconductor, an Israeli chip manufacturer. The announcement came after China’s antitrust regulators failed to rule on the transaction before a deadline set by the companies.


Edited by Gary J. Malone