June 11, 2018

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

U.S. antitrust official says worries over limiting vertical deals ‘misplaced’.  A top antitrust official at the U.S. Justice Department attempted to reassure investors on Thursday that worries that regulators would crack down on proposed combinations of two companies on a supply chain — known as vertical mergers — were overblown.  Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for antitrust, said that most proposed transactions were either good for consumers or neutral.  But the department’s decision in November to sue to stop AT&T Inc, which owns DirecTV, from buying Time Warner Inc. made investors question whether other vertical deals might also meet with skepticism from antitrust enforcers.

Exclusive: U.S. Justice Department probes T-Mobile-Sprint merger effect on smaller wireless companies – sources.  The U.S. Department of Justice is examining how the proposed merger between T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. could affect prices for smaller wireless operators, according to two people familiar with the matter.  A T-Mobile and Sprint merger would eliminate competition between the two carriers that have been the dominant players in selling network access to wireless companies that often serve pre-paid or price-conscious consumers, and could lead to higher prices for those users.  The Justice Department, which is evaluating T-Mobile’s $26 billion deal to buy Sprint, has been speaking with small wireless operators that buy access to the major wireless networks at wholesale rates, and is seeking their opinions about the merger, the people said, who declined to be named because the talks are confidential.

Comcast to Win Unconditional EU Okay for Sky Bid: Sources.  U.S. cable company Comcast is set to gain unconditional EU antitrust approval for its bid to buy European pay-TV company Sky, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The world’s biggest entertainment company is battling Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox for Sky.  The media mogul bid’s to buy all of Sky has been delayed by politicians and regulators worried about the power of the enlarged media group. The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on Comcast’s offer by June 15, did not respond to a request for comment by email. It cleared without conditions Fox’s bid for Sky in April last year.

Google Faces EU Antitrust Fine Over Android Case in July: Sources.  Google is expected to be hit with a second EU antitrust fine in mid-July for using its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, three people familiar with the matter said.  The European Commission, which has been investigating the case involving the unit of Alphabet since 2015, could issue its decision in the week of July 9, although the timing might change.  As a deterrent to others, the EU penalty is likely to top the record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8 billion) fine handed out to Google last year for unfairly favoring its shopping service, sources told Reuters last year.

Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

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