July 24, 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.

Four Apple contractors accuse Qualcomm of antitrust violations.  iPhone chip supplier Qualcomm Inc. faces a new set of antitrust allegations from a group of four companies that assemble the iPhone and other products on behalf of Apple Inc.  Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Wistron Corp, Compal Electronics Inc and Pegatron Corp alleged that Qualcomm violated two sections of the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law.  The accusations, made in a filing late on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, are counterclaims to a Qualcomm lawsuit filed in May seeking to force the contractors to pay Qualcomm license fees that Apple directed them to stop paying.

Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan to Pay $148 Million to End Yen Libor Cases in U.S.  Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have agreed to pay a combined $148 million to end private U.S. antitrust litigation claiming they conspired with other banks to manipulate the yen Libor and Euroyen Tibor benchmark interest rates.  The preliminary settlements, totalling $77 million for Deutsche Bank and $71 million for JPMorgan, were detailed in filings late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  They followed similar settlements last year with Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc totalling $23 million and $35 million, respectively.

U.S. judge rejects class actions over Internet music prices.  A Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday said consumers accusing several big music companies of conspiring to inflate prices of music sold over the Internet and on compact discs cannot pursue their claims in class actions.  U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska’s 89-page decision is a victory for Sony Corp., Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and various affiliates in the 11-year-old lawsuit, which the judge said has been delayed by extensive disputes over evidence.  Consumers accused the defendants of taking unfair advantage of their 80 percent share of the U.S. market for online music, and that by making such music “less attractive” to buy were able to drive up CD prices.

Qualcomm loses appeal against EU threat of daily fine.  U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm faces the threat of a daily fine of 580,000 euros ($665,000) for failing to provide EU antitrust regulators with information after losing an appeal against the penalty in a European Union court on Monday.  Qualcomm, which was charged by the European Commission for using anti-competitive methods to squeeze out British phone software maker Icera, last month asked the Luxembourg-based General Court to suspend the order.  The Commission welcomed the court verdict, while Qualcomm declined to comment.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    July 10, 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.

    Exclusive: EU considers record fine as panel checks Google Android case – sources.  EU antitrust regulators are weighing another record fine against Google over its Android mobile operating system and have set up a panel of experts to give a second opinion on the case, two people familiar with the matter said.  Assuming the panel agrees with the initial case team’s conclusions, it could pave the way for the European Commission to issue a decision against Alphabet’s Google by the end of the year.  The Commission in April last year charged Google with using its dominant Android mobile operating system to shut out rivals following a complaint by lobby group FairSearch, U.S.-based ad-blocking and privacy firm Disconnect Inc., Portuguese apps store Aptoide and Russia’s Yandex.

    Antitrust Regulators Sign Off on Cabela’s Sale to Bass Pro.  U.S. antitrust regulators have ended their investigation into Bass Pro Shops’ $4 billion deal to buy Cabela’s, Cabela’s said Wednesday.  The Nebraska-based chain said the Federal Trade Commission signed off on the deal earlier this week, but banking regulators still haven’t approved one part of the transaction.

    Trump missing chance to steer antitrust as key FTC slots go unfilled.  The White House is passing up a chance to steer policy on everything from mergers to advertising as it delays choosing from three front-runners to name a permanent chair for the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC, which shares the work of antitrust enforcement with the Justice Department and pursues companies accused of deceptive advertising, is currently headed by acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, who was named on Jan. 25.

    Broadcom wins U.S. antitrust consent to buy Brocade: FTC.  Chipmaker Broadcom Limited has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Brocade Communications Systems, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.  The $5.5 billion deal, which already has won approval in Europe and Japan, is the latest in the chip industry as companies bulk up in response to growing demand for chips in connected devices and cars.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

      July 3, 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.

      EU fines Google record $2.7 billion in first antitrust case. EU antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine, taking a tough line in the first of three investigations into the company’s dominance in searches and smartphones. It is the biggest fine the EU has ever imposed on a single company in an antitrust case, exceeding a 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009. The European Commission said the world’s most popular internet search engine has 90 days to stop favoring its own shopping service or face a further penalty per day of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily global turnover.

      U.S. antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm to proceed, judge rules. The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm Inc can proceed, a federal judge ruled, meaning the iPhone chip supplier must now wage a fight with U.S. regulators even as it contests a separate $1 billion lawsuit filed by Apple Inc. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California in San Jose denied Qualcomm’s motion to dismiss the FTC’s lawsuit, saying the agency’s allegations would amount to anticompetitive behavior on Qualcomm’s part if proved true.

      EU Antitrust Regulators Halt Qualcomm, NXP Deal Review. EU antitrust authorities have halted their scrutiny of Qualcomm’s $38 billion bid for NXP Semiconductors after the companies failed to provide relevant information. The European Commission opened a full-scale investigation on June 9 and had been scheduled to decide on the deal by Oct. 17. “Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the Commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly,” the EU competition authority said in an email.

      Top EU court to rule on Intel antitrust case on Sept 6. Europe’s top court will rule on Sept. 6 whether to uphold Intel’s appeal against a 1.06-billion-euro ($1.2 billion) EU antitrust fine, a case with ramifications for Google’s challenge against a record sanction handed out this week. The European Commission penalized U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009 because it tried to squeeze out rival Advanced Micro Devices by giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        June 19, 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.

        GE wins U.S. antitrust approval for Baker Hughes deal.  General Electric Co. has won U.S. antitrust approval to merge its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes Inc. to form a new publicly traded company, the U.S. Justice Department has announced.  GE and Baker Hughes announced the deal in October, months after Halliburton’s effort to buy Baker Hughes collapsed under pressure from the Justice Department.  Under the agreement, GE will combine Baker Hughes with its oil and gas business, creating a company with $23 billion in annual revenue, the companies said.

        Google Said to Be Facing Record E.U. Fine by End of August.  European antitrust officials are preparing to hit Google with a potentially record fine by the end of August over some of the Silicon Valley giant’s search services, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case.  Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is in the final stages of ruling on the case, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.  Any financial penalty is expected to be larger than the fine of 1.06 billion euros, now about $1.2 billion, then about $1.4 billion — at the time the highest ever — that Intel was forced to fork out for antitrust abuses in Europe in 2009.

        Dow, DuPont merger wins U.S. antitrust approval with conditions.  DuPont and Dow Chemical Co. have won U.S. antitrust approval to merge on condition that the companies sell certain crop protection products and other assets, according to a court filing on Thursday.  The asset sales required by U.S. antitrust enforcers were similar to what the companies had agreed to give up in a deal they struck with European regulators in March.  The deal is one of several big mergers by farm suppliers, and the antitrust approval was quickly denounced by the head of the National Farmers Union, saying that farmers would face higher costs.  The U.S Justice Department said the asset sales would prevent price hikes or lost innovation.

        Deutsche Bank reaches $170 million Euribor-rigging settlement.  Deutsche Bank AG will pay $170 million to settle an investor lawsuit claiming it conspired with other banks to manipulate the benchmark European Interbank Offered Rate and related derivatives.  A preliminary settlement was filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and requires a judge’s approval.  It follows similar settlements with Barclays Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc for a respective $94 million and $45 million, which have won preliminary court approval.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

          June 12, 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.

          EU antitrust regulators to investigate $38 billion Qualcomm, NXP deal.  EU antitrust authorities opened an investigation on Friday into Qualcomm’s $38-billion bid for NXP Semiconductors, ratcheting up pressure on the U.S. smartphone chipmaker to offer concessions to address their concerns.  Qualcomm, which supplies chips to Android smartphone makers and Apple, is set to become the leading supplier to the fast growing automotive chip market following the deal, the largest-ever in the semiconductor industry.  The European Commission listed a raft of concerns about the combined company’s ability and incentives to squeeze out rivals and jack up prices.

          Lawsuit in U.S. accuses 12 big banks of credit default swap collusion.  A small trading exchange on Thursday filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Bank of America Corp , Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and nine other banks of conspiring to shut it out of the $9.9 trillion credit default swap market.  Tera Group Inc. accused the banks of coordinating a boycott of its seven-year-old TeraExchange platform by refusing both to send it any CDS transactions, and to clear and settle any CDS trades that customers wanted to handle there.  It also said the banks used their 95 percent market share to require that trading follow a protocol known as “request for quote,” which Tera described as opaque and inefficient.

          French Drugmaker Servier Challenges 331 Million Euro EU Antitrust Fine.  French drugmaker Servier urged an EU court on Tuesday to slash a 331 million euro antitrust fine, saying regulators had committed multiple errors when they ruled against the company’s pay-for-delay deals with generic rivals three years ago.  Such deals, a typical business practice in the industry, are frowned upon by competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic, who say they block the entry of cheaper generic medicines into the market as governments grapple with rising healthcare costs.

          Johnson & Johnson expects to complete of Actelion offer on June 16.  Johnson & Johnson said Friday’s approval of its proposed acquisition of Swiss biotech company Actelion by the European Commission meant all regulatory approvals required to complete the $30 billion deal have been received.  The U.S. company said it expects settlement of the all-cash public tender offer by its Swiss subsidiary, Janssen Holding, on June 16.  EU antitrust regulators approved on Friday Johnson & Johnson’s planned purchase of Actelion subject to conditions intended to ensure clinical development of insomnia drugs were unaffected.

           

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          Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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