August 13, 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.

Beer drinkers lose U.S. appeal over Anheuser-SABMiller merger.  A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected an antitrust challenge by 23 beer drinkers to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s (ABI.BR) $107 billion purchase in 2016 of SABMiller Plc, which they claimed would thwart competition and raise prices in the U.S. beer market. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon said SABMiller’s agreement with antitrust regulators to divest its U.S. beer business, by selling its stake in the MillerCoors joint venture to Molson Coors Brewing Co (TAP.N), would prevent increased concentration in the industry. It also rejected as speculative the argument that the merger violated the federal Clayton Act because it gave Molson Coors an incentive to adopt Anheuser’s distribution practices, to combat its rival’s newly increased size.

Appeals Court Rejects Magazine Anti-Trust Lawsuit.  A federal appeals court has rejected an antitrust lawsuit brought against publishers by what was once one of the country’s largest wholesale magazine distributors. In an opinion published Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan agreed with a lower-court judge in rejecting Anderson News LLC’s claims, first brought in 2009. The Knoxville, Tennessee company argued that publishers controlling 80 percent of the nation’s magazines conspired to drive it out of business by rejecting its demand that publishers pay 7-cent surcharges on each magazine distributed. The company said the surcharge was necessary to remain profitable.

Sprint, T-Mobile in early stages of regulatory review, no decisions yet: source.  U.S. antitrust enforcers are in the early stages of reviewing T-Mobile US Inc’s to buy Sprint Corp for $26 billion, and have reached no conclusions on how many wireless carriers the country needs, a source familiar with the situation said. Sprint shares were up 8.7 percent at $6.11 and T-Mobile rose 6.7 percent to $65.65 in late-afternoon trading, after the New York Post reported that U.S. regulators believed that just three national providers were needed, removing an obstacle to the deal. The two companies compete against AT&T and Verizon to provide U.S. wireless service.

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Categories: Antitrust Litigation, General, Uncategorized

    August 6, 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. 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.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      July 30, 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.

      Several banks dismissed from U.S. metals price-fixing lawsuits.  A U.S. judge has dismissed five large banks from two antitrust lawsuits by investors alleging multi-year conspiracies to rig prices for hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions in the global silver and gold markets. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni threw out all claims over alleged silver price-fixing against Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Standard Chartered Plc and UBS Group AG. The Manhattan judge also dismissed UBS from the gold-fixing case.

      NXP’s Chief Criticizes China After Qualcomm Deal Collapses.  The finger-pointing over the scuttled $44 billion transaction between the chip makers Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductors has begun. Richard Clemmer, chief executive of NXP, had some harsh words on Thursday for officials in China over the deal’s collapse amid a trade war between Washington and Beijing. The acquisition was terminated after it failed to secure regulatory approval from Chinese authorities before a deadline set by the companies at midnight Eastern time on Wednesday.

      EU fines Philips, Asus, Pioneer, Denon & Marantz total 111 mln euros.  EU antitrust authorities handed down a total fine of 111.2 million euros ($130.1 million) to Philips, Pioneer, Asus and Denon & Marantz on Tuesday for fixing online resale prices. The European Commission opened an investigation into the four companies in February last year as part of its crackdown against curbs on online sales across-borders, such as restricting offers based on a customer’s location or nationality. The EU competition enforcer said the companies engaged in “fixed or minimum resale price maintenance” by restricting the ability of their online retailers to set their own retail prices for widely used consumer electronics products such as kitchen appliances, notebooks and hi-fi products.

      Blackstone wins EU approval to buy Thomson Reuters unit.  U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group has secured EU antitrust approval to acquire a majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ Financial and Risk unit, the European Commission said on Monday. Blackstone is making its biggest bet since the financial crisis with the $20 billion deal which pits co-founder Stephen Schwarzman against fellow billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Much like Thomson Reuters, Blackstone’s portfolio company Ipreo also provides financial information products to financial market professionals. The EU enforcer said it did not see any competition concerns despite the overlaps between the two companies.

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        July 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.

        EU Google decision delayed to next week, source says, as Trump visits.  EU antitrust regulators have postponed to next week a finding against Google’s Android mobile operating system, a person familiar with the matter said, avoiding any clash with a visit to Brussels by U.S. President Donald Trump. The European Commission had scheduled a meeting of national competition agencies for Tuesday to brief them on the case, including what is expected to be a record-breaking fine against Alphabet unit Google. But the meeting has been rescheduled to July 17, the person said, without giving a reason for the change. Other sources said they expected a delay due to the presence of Trump, who is due to attend a NATO summit in Brussels this week.

        Justice Department to Appeal Approval of AT&T Acquisition of Time Warner.  The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it would appeal a federal judge’s approval of AT&T Inc.’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, raising the prospect barely a month after the deal closed that it could be undone. AT&T was sued by the Justice Department on antitrust grounds, saying that the deal would harm consumers, but U.S. District Judge Richard Leon last month approved the deal, allowing it to move forward following a lengthy trial. The merger, first announced in October 2016, was also opposed by President Donald Trump. Leon ruled that the tie-up between AT&T’s wireless and satellite businesses with Time Warner’s movies and television shows was legal under antitrust law.

        Japan watchdog: Apple may have breached antitrust rules with iPhone.  Japanese regulators said on Wednesday Apple Inc may have breached antitrust rules by forcing mobile service providers to sell its iPhones cheaply and charge higher monthly fees, denying consumers a fair choice. The Fair Trade Commission said that the Japanese unit of Apple had forced NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. to offer subsidies and sell iPhones at a discount. “Obliging carriers to offer subsidies (for iPhones) could have prevented the carriers from offering lower monthly charges and restricted competition,” the FTC said in a statement.

        Siemens, Alstom deal faces full-scale EU antitrust probe: sources.  Siemens and Alstom are set to face a full-scale EU antitrust investigation this week after declining to provide concessions to allay regulatory concerns about their plan to combine their rail operations, two people familiar with the matter said. German industrial group Siemens and French rival Alstom want to create a Franco-German rail champion to compete more effectively with bigger rival CRRC and Canada’s Bombardier Transportation. The companies had until July 6 to offer concessions to the European Commission but did not do so. Some firms prefer to wait for the EU antitrust enforcer to set out possible anti-competitive issues so they can tailor concessions to address them.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          July 9, 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.

          Tech Giants Win a Battle Over Copyright Rules in Europe.  It’s a fight nearly as old as the internet. On one side are news organizations, broadcasters and music companies that want to control how their content spreads across the web, and to be paid more for it. On the other are tech companies such as Facebook and Google, which argue that they funnel viewers and advertising revenue to media outlets, and free-speech advocates, who say that regulating the internet would set a dangerous precedent and limit access to information. That battle flared up in Europe on Thursday.

          Content-hungry bidders circle ‘Big Brother’ maker Endemol.  Several bidders, including Liberty Global, are preparing offers for TV production company Endemol Shine, maker of classic reality show ‘Big Brother’ and the dystopian ‘Black Mirror’ dramas, before an initial deadline. ITV, RTL Group’s FremantleMedia and Lions Gate Entertainment are also eyeing Netherlands-based Endemol, sources close to the matter said, in a deal that comes as the rise of streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime has thrown the industry into turmoil.

          A Record $2.5 Trillion in Mergers Were Announced in the First Half of 2018.  More than $2.5 trillion in mergers were announced during the first half of the year, as fears of Silicon Valley’s growing ambitions helped drive a record run of deal-making. Four of the 10 biggest deals were struck in part to fend off competition from the largest technology companies as the value of acquisitions announced during the first six months of the year increased 61 percent from the same period in 2017, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. That has put mergers in 2018 on pace to surpass $5 trillion, which would top 2015 as the largest yearly total on record.

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          Categories: Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, General

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