The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Smaller Airlines Seek Mergers to Compete With Industry Giants. Smaller airlines that operate in the shadow of the nation’s four dominant air carriers are increasingly feeling pressure to merge with others to gain access to more planes and airport gates. Those dynamics were on display in a federal courtroom in Boston where JetBlue Airways tried to persuade a judge to let it buy Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion. It was also at play last week when Alaska Airlines proposed acquiring Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion. The outcome of these deals could be pivotal for the companies and the U.S. airline industry, in which four companies control more than two-thirds of the national market and exert dominance over big airports in places like Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Newark. If one or both mergers are approved, the deals would be the largest in years.
NCAA faces legal blitz as states, more athletes sue over curbs on student players. A group of states and star college athletes lodged a pair of new antitrust lawsuits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, ramping up legal pressure on the organization as it is already facing billions of dollars in potential liability over curbs on players. A proposed class of college athletes sued in California court to strike down all of the NCAA’s rules that bar athletes from being compensated for their athletic roles. Ohio and six other states, including New York, Illinois and North Carolina, separately sued the college sports governing body in West Virginia federal court over a student-transfer rule that can delay an athlete’s eligibility to compete in games for a year. The NCAA faces an array of student-athlete lawsuits over rules that include restrictions on compensation for the commercial use of some athletes’ “name, image and likeness.”
US FTC tries again to stop Microsoft’s already-closed deal for Activision. U.S. antitrust enforcers argued that a federal judge got it wrong when she ruled that Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to buy “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard was legal under competition law, in their latest attempt to stop the deal. Microsoft closed the deal on Oct. 13 after winning approval from British regulators. The deal was originally proposed in January 2022 as the biggest acquisition in the history of the gaming industry.
Edited by Gary J. Malone