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Comcast-NBC Universal Deal Clears European Hurdle

Posted  07/21/10
A proposed joint venture between cable giant Comcast and media titan NBC Universal has cleared a major hurdle as European antitrust regulators have blessed the deal. Because of significant differences between the assets involved in the American and European aspects of the deal, however, it seems likely that U.S. regulators will continue to scrutinize the venture more rigorously. Comcast is America’s largest...

EU Court Upholds Fines Against Plasterboard Cartel For Walling Up Competition

Posted  07/9/10
Europe’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ), has upheld a fine of 85.8 million euros (approximately $100 million) against the German company Knauf Gips KG for participating in a plasterboard price-fixing cartel. The cartel consisted of Knauf Gips KG, France’s Lafarge SA, Britain’s BPB Plc, and Belgium’s Gyproc Benelux.  The decision upholds part of the European Commission’s November 27, 2002,...

AstraZeneca Finds Little Antitrust Relief From EU In Heartburn Drug Case

Posted  07/7/10
The General Court of the European Union has upheld a 2005 ruling by the European Commission that AstraZeneca engaged in anticompetitive behavior to shield its anti-ulcer and heartburn drug, Losec, from competition by blocking generic copies from entering the market. The Commission fined AstraZeneca 60 million euros ($74 million), which the Court reduced to the still significant amount of 52.5 million euros. The...

Canada Sends In Task Force To Tackle “Bewildering” Payments System

Posted  06/30/10
Canada is attempting to get a handle on the bewildering explosion in new payment technologies with a task force. Canada's Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, has announced the launch of a new Task Force for the Payments System Review.  As Flaherty commented, consumers today can make payments in “a bewildering number of ways, even by tapping a cell phone against a scanner.” One of the Task Force’s main...

China Edges Into Antitrust Enforcement With Break Up Of Price-Fixing Cartel

Posted  06/28/10
While no one may be predicting China will be the antitrust powerhouse of the 21st Century, its days as an antitrust neophyte appear to be ending. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) of China has levied fines and administrative penalties against more than 20 producers of rice noodles.  This enforcement action represents the first application of Article 13 of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law...

Canadian Supremes Nix DRAM Makers’ Appeal

Posted  06/16/10
The Supreme Court of Canada has denied defendants leave to appeal from the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s certification decision in Pro-Sys Consultants Ltd. v Infineon Technologies AG – the DRAM price-fixing class action. The B.C. Court of Appeal's earlier decision certifying a class of direct and indirect purchasers of DRAMs (semiconductor memory chips also known as “dynamic random access memory”)...

German Coffee Companies Get A Wake-Up Call For Price-Fixing

Posted  06/14/10
The Bundeskartellamt, Germany's version of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, has announced it is fining eight coffee roasters 30 million euros ($35.9 million) for illegally fixing the price of wholesale coffee sold to bulk customers such as restaurants and hotels. Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt spoke strongly about the need for antitrust regulation, saying that "cartels ... are highly...

EC Overhauls Horizontal Agreement Guidelines And Safe Harbor Exemptions

Posted  05/10/10
The European Commission has unveiled new draft rules for horizontal cooperation agreements as part of the EC’s Horizontal Guidelines and Research & Development and Specialization Agreement Block Exemption Regulations (BERs). The new rules aim to clarify when companies’ horizontal agreements will be deemed to restrict competition and when such agreements will qualify for an exemption.  The rules include a new...

The Antitrust Class Action Comes To Italy

Posted  01/13/10
Italian consumer rights group Codacons has filed class action lawsuits against Italy’s two largest banks – Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP.MI) and UniCredit SpA (UCG.MI) – for banking fees paid by more than 25 million customers. The cases are the first to be brought under a new law permitting class action suits in Italian courts, and could force the two banks to pay up to 6.25 billion Euros (approximately nine...

Will The DOJ’s Holiday Greeting To The EC Bring Holiday Cheer?

Posted  12/29/09
The DOJ’s Antitrust Division has sent the European Commission a holiday greeting that appears designed to mollify the EC after a DOJ statement last month that the EC viewed as a lump of coal in its Christmas stocking. “The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division commends the efforts of the European Commission …”  These were the opening words of a surprising statement issued by Assistant Attorney General...
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