Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
U.S. court allows release of bench transcripts in AT&T merger fight. An appeals court that is hearing the U.S. Justice Department’s fight with AT&T over its merger with Time Warner agreed on Friday to allow the release of transcripts of bench conferences that the public was unable to listen in on during the trial in a lower court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in an order on Friday that the government would be allowed to release transcripts of the conversations that generally occurred between Judge Richard Leon, who tried the case, and one or more lawyers from the Justice Department, AT&T and Time Warner. Judge Leon ruled in June that the Justice Department was wrong to ask that a $85.4 billion merger of AT&T, which owns DirecTV, and Time Warner be blocked.
DOJ Opens Review of Hollywood Antitrust Regulations. Signaling that the antitrust regulations that have governed movie distribution for the last seven decades may be ripe for revision, the Department of Justice on Thursday opened a review of the famed Paramount Decrees. The 1948 landmark Supreme Court decision of United States v. Paramount, known as “the Paramount Decrees,” effectively ended the old Hollywood system, outlawing such practices as “block booking,” in which studios required theaters to book a bundle of their films. It was part of antitrust efforts to prohibit the major studios from also controlling the country’s movie theaters.
Credit Suisse charged with rigging foreign exchange rates. Credit Suisse has been charged by European Union antitrust regulators with rigging foreign exchange rates, the Swiss bank said on Tuesday, a sign that the five-year long EU investigation may reach a conclusion in the coming months. Credit Suisse said in its quarterly report it received notification from the European Commission on July 26 alleging that it “engaged in anticompetitive practices in connection with its foreign exchange trading business”. EU enforcers typically lay out charges of illegal activities conducted by companies before imposing fines which can reach 10 percent of their global turnover.
Linde says regulators likely to demand more divestitures in Praxair deal. German industrial gases group Linde said it and U.S. rival Praxair may need to sell more assets than anticipated to secure antitrust approval for their planned $87 billion tie-up, which could scupper the deal. The planned combination in an all-shares merger, agreed in principle in December 2016, would create a global leader in gas distribution ahead of France’s Air Liquide.