July 31, 2017

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

For Alphabet, a Record Fine is Both a Footnote and a Warning.  Not many companies can turn a $2.7 billion fine into a financial footnote.  But that is what Google’s parent company, Alphabet, did with its quarterly earnings.  However, while its business hums along, Alphabet faces a challenge that has little to do with its day-to-day performance.  A month after the European Commission handed down a record $2.7 billion penalty against Google for what it said was “illegal conduct” in unfairly promoting its own shopping services over competitors, Democrats in the United States are calling for more antitrust oversight of big companies.

Banks must face interest rate swap class action -U.S. judge.  U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said 11 banks, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., must defend against claims that from 2013 to 2016 they boycotted three upstart electronic platforms for swaps trading, hoping to destroy them.  Investors seeking damages in the proposed class action said banks did this to preserve their 70 percent market share and boost profit by making trading more costly.  Interest rate swaps let parties exchange future interest payments, typically by exchanging a fixed rate for a floating rate, to manage risk or bet on whether rates will rise or fall.

German Carmakers Face Potential New Scandal Over Antitrust Issues.  Germany’s high-end carmakers face a potentially destructive new scandal after European antitrust authorities said that they were looking into allegations that Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW colluded illegally to hold down the prices of crucial technology, including emissions equipment.  If proven, the allegations threaten to further damage the country’s reputation for engineering excellence.  That reputation has already been badly tarnished by Volkswagen’s admission that it illegally installed software in its diesel-powered cars to evade standards for reducing smog.

EU antitrust regulators raided Clariant, Celanese, others.  EU antitrust regulators raided several ethylene purchasing companies in May, including Swiss chemicals maker Clariant and U.S. rival Celanese, over concerns the firms may have participated in a cartel.  Clariant confirmed the EU investigation on Wednesday while Celanese said some of its units were being investigated.  Ethylene is used to make various chemical and plastic products.

Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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