Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
AT&T Suit May Herald a New Antitrust Era-Or Trumpian Pique. The Trump administration’s decision to oppose the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger may be clouded by suspicions of political influence. But considered on its merits, it could mark a significant departure in antitrust policy, one that might block or modify a broader set of mergers found to harm consumers. The move disconcerted both Wall Street and the telecom and media industries, none of which expected it. Consumer groups are applauding, saying it’s a good step by the Justice Department to protect people from higher cable bills and ensure that web-based alternatives to TV aren’t stifled.
DOJ bucks China, urges SCOTUS to hear case against vitamin cartel. On Tuesday, as President Donald Trump returned to Washington from his long trip to Asia, lawyers at the U.S. Justice Department defied China’s Ministry of Commerce in a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the dismissal of an antitrust class action against a cartel of Chinese vitamin manufacturers. The brief, filed by the U.S. Solicitor General and the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, argues that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals paid too much deference to the Chinese ministry’s characterization of Chinese antitrust law. The U.S. government recommended the Supreme Court hear the case, Animal Science Products v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical, to clarify how much weight U.S. courts should give to foreign sovereigns’ descriptions of their laws.
Delta Says US Approves Joint Venture With Korean Air. Delta Air Lines says U.S. regulators have given the green light to a joint venture with Korean Air, and the carriers are waiting for approval from the South Korean government. Delta said Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation approved the arrangement. It still needs approval from South Korea’s transport ministry. With antitrust immunity, the airlines can share costs and revenues from flights.
EU fines five car airbag, seatbelt suppliers over cartel. EU antitrust regulators fined five car safety equipment makers a total of 34 million euros ($40.0 million) on Wednesday for taking part in cartels to fix prices for seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese carmakers. The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the European Union, said it had identified that four separate cartels in which suppliers to Toyota, Suzuki and Honda coordinated over prices and markets and exchanged sensitive information between 2004 and 2010.