Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
AT&T Deal Puts Trump’s Antitrust Cop at Center of a Political Storm. A year ago, Makan Delrahim predicted that AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner would be approved by regulators. “I don’t see this as a major antitrust problem,” Mr. Delrahim, then a law professor, said to a Canadian television network. Now, five weeks into his job as the top antitrust regulator at the Justice Department, Mr. Delrahim has taken a different position. The department has threatened to block the deal in court unless AT&T sells off major assets.
Eyewear mega deal could hurt U.S. consumers, but still be approved. The world’s biggest eyeglass frame maker is planning to merge with the largest lens maker in a tie-up U.S. antitrust experts fear will be bad news for consumers, but could still be approved. France’s Essilor, the prescription lens maker, has asked U.S. regulators to bless its merger with Italy’s Luxottica, the leading frame maker, to create a company that would produce everything from Ray-Bans to Giorgio Armani frames, and be the top U.S. eyeglass retail outlet as well as a leading provider of vision insurance. No eyeglass company in the United States – the biggest market for both firms – would come close.
Bargaining chip? China seen closely scrutinizing Qualcomm, Broadcom deal. A potential mega-merger between chipmaker Broadcom Ltd. and U.S. rival Qualcomm Inc is likely to face stern scrutiny in China, antitrust lawyers say, amid a strategic push by Beijing into semiconductors. Broadcom has made an unsolicited $103 billion bid for Qualcomm, aimed at creating a $200-billion-plus behemoth that could reshape the industry at the heart of mobile phone hardware. But Chinese regulatory approval could be a hold-up. Beijing and Washington have sparred over technology deals, including in chips, with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States knocking back a number of takeovers involving Chinese firms this year.
EU resumes Bayer-Monsanto deal review; new deadline March 5. The European Commission has resumed its antitrust review of Bayer’s planned takeover of U.S. seed maker Monsanto after the companies were given time to provide more information. The new deadline for the Commission to decide over the deal is now March 5, the antitrust regulator said on Monday. Bayer reiterated it was aiming to wrap up the deal in early 2018.