The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Kraft, Kellogg, other food producers suing over egg prices score evidence win in US court. Kraft, Kellogg and other major food-processing manufacturers have won a federal court ruling that will let them use key export data at an antitrust trial seeking more than $110 million in damages from egg producers accused of artificially inflating prices. U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger in Chicago said in an order that Kraft and the other plaintiffs, including General Mills and Nestle, can argue at trial that United Egg Producers and others schemed to export eggs to drive down domestic supply in the U.S. in order to charge higher prices here. “The evidence supports one of plaintiffs’ core theories of liability supporting a single conspiracy to restrain trade,” Seeger wrote in his order. “The jury will decide who to believe.”
Ford Motor Co’s health insurance antitrust suit filed too late, Blue Cross argues. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its Michigan affiliate have asked a U.S. judge to dismiss a lawsuit from Ford Motor accusing them of a conspiracy that artificially inflated how much the automaker was paying for insurance premiums and other commercial health insurance services. In a pair of filings, the Blue Cross defendants argued Ford had not shown that the insurers blocked any competing company from selling insurance products. The insurers also alleged that Ford’s claims, filed in May in Detroit federal court, were either entirely or mostly outside of legal time frame for antitrust lawsuits.
US FTC to probe Qualcomm’s purchase of Israel’s Autotalks – Politico. he U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expected to open an in-depth probe on Wednesday of Qualcomm’s purchase of Israeli auto-chip maker Autotalks, Politico reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. In May, Qualcomm had said it would acquire Israel’s Autotalks Ltd, a maker of chips used in crash-prevention technology in vehicles, but had not disclosed the terms of the deal. Autotalks, which makes dedicated chips used in the V2X communications technology sector for manned and driverless vehicles, would help Qualcomm expand its automotive-related business.
Microsoft Offers British Regulators Changes to Activision Deal. British antitrust officials said that they were reviewing a revised offer by Microsoft to win approval of its $69 billion merger with Activision Blizzard, an effort to clear the biggest remaining regulatory hurdle to the major video games deal. To address the concerns of British regulators that the deal would stunt the development of a new area of gaming technology, Microsoft said it would transfer the cloud streaming licensing rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft Entertainment, a rival game publisher. Microsoft’s revised offer is an effort to win over the country’s main antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, which said in April that it would seek to block the merger because of concerns about its impact on so-called cloud gaming, an emerging area of technology that lets people stream games on phones, tablets and other devices, potentially eliminating the need for consoles.
Edited by Gary J. Malone