February 20, 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. files complaint against three biggest dental supply firms. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday it had filed a complaint against the three largest U.S. dental supply companies, saying they had broken antitrust law. The FTC said that Benco Dental Supply, Henry Schein Inc. and Patterson Companies had conspired to refuse to serve or give discounts to dental buying groups. The three companies sell more than 85 percent of the $10 billion in gloves, cements, chairs and other products that U.S. dentists purchase each year, the FTC said. Buying groups representing small dental practices had asked the big dental product suppliers to aggregate sales to them and to negotiate prices, the FTC said.

AT&T Is Said to Want Antitrust Official on Witness List for Trial.  AT&T is seeking to put the head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division on its witness list in a trial over the government’s decision to block the phone giant’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner, according to two people with knowledge of the pretrial activity. The company’s request for the antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, to testify is highly unusual. By putting Mr. Delrahim on the witness list, AT&T is effectively forcing him to defend his own decision to oppose the blockbuster merger. The trial over the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop the deal is scheduled to begin on March 19.

Bayer petitions Russian antitrust watchdog for more time in Monsanto case. Bayer has taken Russia’s antitrust regulator to court over the watchdog’s investigation into the company’s planned takeover of Monsanto, a further hiccup in the $64 billion deal amid intense antitrust scrutiny. A Bayer spokesman said the German company was petitioning the court in Russia to be given more time to discuss demands made by the regulator about the deal, which would create the world’s largest seeds and pesticides company. “The parties are in dialogue but the agreement has not been reached yet. Bayer made a decision to bring the case to court in order to safeguard its juridical rights,” Bayer said in a written statement.

Qualcomm says open to more deal talks with Broadcom following meeting. Qualcomm Inc. on Friday called a meeting with Broadcom Ltd to discuss the latter’s $121 billion bid constructive and opened the door to more talks, but continued to reject the proposed deal between the semiconductor companies. Qualcomm’s response raises the stakes in a battle over what would be the technology sector’s largest-ever acquisition. The two companies have less than three weeks to negotiate a potential deal until Qualcomm shareholders are asked to vote on a challenge by Broadcom to Qualcomm’s board of directors.  Qualcomm has been seeking to walk a fine line between resisting Broadcom’s acquisition approach, which it says undervalues it and is fraught with regulatory risks, and demonstrating to its shareholders and proxy advisory firms that it is willing to engage to secure a better deal if possible.

 

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Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    February 5, 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. agencies probe Apple over slowing iPhones: Bloomberg.  The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc. violated securities laws concerning its disclosures that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.  “We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters.  “We have never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” she added.

    2 More Lawsuits Accuse Chicken Producers of Fixing Prices.  Two major food distributors have filed their own federal lawsuits accusing Tyson Foods and other major chicken producers of fixing prices, but the industry denies any wrongdoing.  The lawsuits filed this week in Illinois by Sysco Corp. and US Foods Holding Corp. join several other lawsuits pending against the chicken producers.  The allegations date back at least to a 2016 lawsuit filed by New York-based Maplevale Farms.

    Exclusive: Senator Schumer recommends his chief counsel for Federal Trade Commission.  U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has recommended that the White House nominate one of his top aides, Rebecca Slaughter, to the Federal Trade Commission, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.  Schumer is the Senate Minority Leader and Slaughter is his chief counsel who has worked for him since 2009, according to her LinkedIn page. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2008.

    EU extends antitrust study of Bayer bid for Monsanto to March 12.  European Union antitrust investigators said they had extended their investigation into Bayer’s bid for Monsanto by five working days until March 12, without giving a reason.  The $66 billion deal would make Bayer the world’s largest pesticides and seeds company, an outcome already facing strong criticism from environmentalists and some farm groups.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

      January 22, 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.

      FTC investigating Broadcom for antitrust practices.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether chipmaker Broadcom Ltd. engaged in anticompetitive tactics in negotiations with customers, the company said on Wednesday.  The investigation comes as Broadcom pursues a hostile takeover of Qualcomm in a $103 billion deal.  Since the FTC would likely review any merger for anticompetitive practices, the current probe could make regulatory approval more challenging.  Broadcom was recently issued subpoenas that seek an extensive amount of information, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report the probe on Wednesday.

      Lawsuit in U.S. Accuses Nine Banks of Rigging Canadian Rate Benchmark.  Nine large banks, including six from Canada, have been accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to rig a Canadian rate benchmark to improve profits from derivatives trading.  The complaint, filed by a Colorado pension fund in U.S. District Court in Manhattan late on Friday, accused Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia and the other banks of suppressing the Canadian Dealer Offered Rate (CDOR) from Aug. 9, 2007, to June 30, 2014.  According to the Fire & Police Pension Association of Colorado, the banks hoped to reduce interest they would owe investors on CDOR-based derivatives transactions in the United States, including swaps and Canadian dollar futures contracts, and generate potentially billions of dollars of improper profit.

      EU antitrust regulators clear Qualcomm purchase of NXP.  EU antitrust regulators have approved U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm’s planned $38 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors subject to a series of commitments Qualcomm has made.  Qualcomm said the European Union clearance, along with approval earlier on Thursday from the Korea Fair Trade Commission, meant it now had eight of nine approvals, with just China remaining.  It said it was optimistic that would come soon.  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.

      Judge overseeing AT&T, Time Warner merger trial hears document dispute.  AT&T, owner of DirecTV, is asking for documents from a long list of companies as part of preparation for a trial to determine if they will be allowed to buy movie and TV show maker Time Warner, their lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said in a pre-trial hearing on Friday.  The Justice Department sued in November to stop AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless company, from buying Time Warner for $85 billion because of concerns that it could raise prices for rivals and pay-TV subscribers as well as hamper the development of online video.  Trial is set for March 19.  Daniel Petrocelli, who represents AT&T and Time Warner, said that his team had been unable to get data requested from third parties, who had said they no longer had some of it. He asked the government, which did have the data, to return it so it could be subpoenaed.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        January 16, 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.

        Live Nation Settles Suit With Ticketing Start-Up, Buying Its Assets.  Two years ago, Songkick, a ticketing start-up that operated out of a loft in Brooklyn, filed an antitrust suit against Live Nation Entertainment, the colossus of the concert business.  The David-and-Goliath suit included accusations of abuse of market power by Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary.  But on Friday, less than two weeks before the start of a trial, Live Nation announced that it had settled the suit for $110 million and an additional undisclosed sum to acquire some of Songkick’s remaining technology assets and patents.

        Department of Justice Probes Admissions Ethics Code.  The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law.  The department has sent information requests to NACAC and to professionals from various schools and colleges who were involved in drafting the new version of the ethics code, which was adopted last year.  The letter from the department, a copy of which has been obtained by Inside Higher Ed, states that the investigation pertains to a possible agreement “to restrain trade among colleges and universities in the recruitment of students.”

        Jaguar Land Rover Escapes Antitrust Suit Over Ban on Overseas Resale.  A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust suit challenging Jaguar Land Rover’s ban on overseas resale of vehicles it sells to U.S. customers.  The suit was brought on behalf of U.S. owners of Jaguars and Land Rovers, and asserts that they could resell their vehicles in China or Russia for three or four times their cost here if not for a no-export policy the company imposes on new car buyers.  The suit asserts that the vehicles’ manufacturer requires its U.S. dealers to enforce the policy, and dealers that fail to do so are given a reduced allocation of vehicles.  But the complaint fails because the plaintiff did not establish a concerted action by the defendants that produced anti-competitive effects within the relevant product and geographic markets, U.S. District Judge William Martini of the District of New Jersey ruled, dismissing the suit with prejudice.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          January 8, 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.

          Southwest Airlines Settles Suit but Denies Colluding to Keep Ticket Prices High.  A federal judge has approved a $15 million settlement between Southwest Airlines and members of a class-action lawsuit who allege that the company, along with three other airlines, conspired to limit the number of seats available to customers and keep ticket prices high.  In a statement, Southwest said the settlement “does not constitute any admission of wrongdoing” and denied having entered into any unlawful agreements with its competitors.  The move appeared to represent a break of sorts between Southwest and the other three defendants named in the lawsuit:  American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.  Those companies have also denied doing anything illegal, and they continue to fight the allegations.

          EU Asks:  Does Control of ‘Big Data’ Kill Competition?  European Union antitrust regulators are taking a hard look at an increasingly important corporate currency: data.  The EU’s competition chief is focusing on how companies stockpile and use so-called big data, the enormous computer files of customer records, industry statistics and other information.  The attention diverges starkly from a hands-off approach in the U.S., where regulators emphasize how big data can generate innovation.

          Lawsuit:  Duke, UNC Agreed to Not Hire Each Other’s Doctors.  The basketball rivalry between Duke University and the University of North Carolina battle is legendary, but a federal lawsuit says the two elite institutions have agreed not to compete in another prestigious area:  the market for highly skilled medical workers.  The antitrust complaint by a former Duke radiologist accuses the schools just 10 miles (16 kilometers) apart of secretly conspiring to avoid poaching each other’s professors.  If her lawyers succeed in persuading a judge to make it a class action, thousands of faculty, physicians, nurses and other professionals could be affected.

          Argentina approves Telecom ‘quadruple play’ services.  Argentina’s communications regulator Enacom said on Friday it had signed off on new rules allowing companies to offer so-called quadruple play services that include landlines, mobile phones, pay television and the internet.  Approval had been expected in early 2018 after phone company Telecom Argentina SA and Cablevision SA, an internet, cable TV and data transmission company, reached a merger agreement in July.  Enacom also said on Friday it had authorized mobile phone providers Claro and Telefonica licenses to offer pay television and radio services in select cities in Argentina.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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