August 21, 2017

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

Deutsche Bank, Bank of America settle agency bond rigging lawsuits.  Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Corp agreed to pay a combined $65.5 million to settle investor litigation accusing large banks of rigging the roughly $9 trillion government agency bond market over a decade.  Preliminary settlements totaling $48.5 million for Deutsche Bank and $17 million for Bank of America were filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  The settlements were the first in litigation accusing 10 banks of engaging in a “brazen conspiracy” to rig the market for U.S. dollar-denominated supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, court papers show.

Slim’s America Movil Wins Telecom Battle in Top Mexico Court.  Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled billionaire Carlos Slim’s telecommunications company America Movil should not be barred by law from charging competitors certain fees, prompting fears of a rollback of a sweeping antitrust reform.  The 2014 telecom industry reform, one of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s signature accomplishments, prohibited America Movil from charging other carriers for calls made to customers on its network, even though those firms are allowed to bill America Movil for using their networks.

U.S. Pension Funds Sue Goldman, JPMorgan, Others Over Stock Lending Market.  Three U.S. pension funds sued six of the world’s largest banks on Thursday, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JP Morgan Chase & Co, accusing them of conspiring to stifle competition in the more than $1 trillion stock lending market. In the lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court, the funds accused the banks of boycotting start-up lending platforms by threatening and intimidating their potential clients. The defendants include Bank of America Corp, Credit Suisse AG, Morgan Stanley, UBS AG, Goldman and JP Morgan.

Air Berlin assets to go to more than one buyer: German government official.  A senior German government official was quoted as saying on Thursday that the assets of insolvent Air Berlin could not be bought by any one competitor due to regulatory reasons.  “It is quite clear that there won’t be a takeover of Air Berlin by a single airline,” Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig told German media group Funke.  “This is necessary and correct for antitrust and competitive reasons,” he added.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    August 14, 2017

    The Antitrust Week In Review

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

    Citigroup to pay $130 mln to end Libor rigging lawsuit in U.S. Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $130 million to settle private U.S. antitrust litigation accusing it of conspiring with rivals to manipulate the Libor benchmark interest rate. The bank is the second to resolve claims by so-called “over-the-counter” investors that transacted directly with banks on a panel to determine Libor, according to filings late Monday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Barclays Plc, the British bank, reached a similar settlement in November 2015 for $120 million.

    Bush-Era FTC Official Is Trump Favorite for Chief: Source. President Donald Trump’s leading choice to run the Federal Trade Commission is a Washington lawyer who served at the agency as a top official under President George W. Bush, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. Joseph Simons, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, is the leading choice to run the FTC over Acting FTC chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, who has been running the agency since January.

    Developers file antitrust complaint against Apple in China. A Chinese law firm has filed a complaint against Apple Inc on behalf of 28 local developers alleging the firm breached antitrust regulations. The complaint, lodged by Beijing-based Dare & Sure Law Firm, accuses Apple of charging excessive fees and removing apps from its local store without proper explanation, Lin Wei, an attorney at the firm told Reuters on Thursday.

    Kaspersky Lab to withdraw Microsoft antitrust complaints. Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday it would withdraw antitrust complaints made in Europe against Microsoft after the U.S. technology giant agreed to change how it delivers security updates to Windows users. Both companies simultaneously announced a resolution to nearly a year of disputes that included Kaspersky alleging that Microsoft had erected unfair obstacles for independent security vendors on its Windows 10 operating system.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      August 7, 2017

      The Antitrust Week In Review

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

      Morgan Stanley, RBC, others settle currency rigging lawsuit in U.S.  Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada and three other banks agreed to pay a combined $111.2 million to settle U.S. litigation accusing them of rigging prices in the roughly $5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.  The preliminary settlements were detailed in filings late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  Fourteen of the 16 banks that were sued have settled, for a total payout of $2.12 billion, court papers show.

      EU Sends Charge Sheet to Visa Over Inter-Regional Fees.  The European Commission said on Thursday it had sent a charge sheet to credit card group Visa over the fees merchants have to pay when customers from outside the bloc make purchases in the European Union.  In 2014, the Commission ended another investigation into the company’s fee structure when Visa Europe agreed to cap the transaction fees it charged.  The Commission said it was now looking at so-called inter-regional interchange fees, those charged to merchants when accepting Visa cards issued outside the European Economic Area (EEA), for example when tourists make purchases in the EU.

      Starz: AT&T’s Time Warner Deal Would Steer Customers Away From Us.  The premium movie channel Starz criticized AT&T’s plan to buy Time Warner on Wednesday, saying the megadeal would give AT&T the clout to steer customers away from Starz and toward its own premium channels.  The $85 billion deal, which was announced in October, would give AT&T control of such Time Warner properties as HBO and CNN, the film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets.

      BMW reassured top staff about cartel allegations: sources.  Germany’s BMW has told its top managers that regulators probing reports of collusion among German carmakers will find the allegations hard to justify, two sources familiar with the matter said.  German magazine Der Spiegel reported last month that BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen may have used industry committee meetings to fix the size of tanks for AdBlue, a liquid used to treat nitrogen oxide in diesel emissions.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        July 31, 2017

        The Antitrust Week In Review

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

        For Alphabet, a Record Fine is Both a Footnote and a Warning.  Not many companies can turn a $2.7 billion fine into a financial footnote.  But that is what Google’s parent company, Alphabet, did with its quarterly earnings.  However, while its business hums along, Alphabet faces a challenge that has little to do with its day-to-day performance.  A month after the European Commission handed down a record $2.7 billion penalty against Google for what it said was “illegal conduct” in unfairly promoting its own shopping services over competitors, Democrats in the United States are calling for more antitrust oversight of big companies.

        Banks must face interest rate swap class action -U.S. judge.  U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said 11 banks, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., must defend against claims that from 2013 to 2016 they boycotted three upstart electronic platforms for swaps trading, hoping to destroy them.  Investors seeking damages in the proposed class action said banks did this to preserve their 70 percent market share and boost profit by making trading more costly.  Interest rate swaps let parties exchange future interest payments, typically by exchanging a fixed rate for a floating rate, to manage risk or bet on whether rates will rise or fall.

        German Carmakers Face Potential New Scandal Over Antitrust Issues.  Germany’s high-end carmakers face a potentially destructive new scandal after European antitrust authorities said that they were looking into allegations that Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW colluded illegally to hold down the prices of crucial technology, including emissions equipment.  If proven, the allegations threaten to further damage the country’s reputation for engineering excellence.  That reputation has already been badly tarnished by Volkswagen’s admission that it illegally installed software in its diesel-powered cars to evade standards for reducing smog.

        EU antitrust regulators raided Clariant, Celanese, others.  EU antitrust regulators raided several ethylene purchasing companies in May, including Swiss chemicals maker Clariant and U.S. rival Celanese, over concerns the firms may have participated in a cartel.  Clariant confirmed the EU investigation on Wednesday while Celanese said some of its units were being investigated.  Ethylene is used to make various chemical and plastic products.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          July 24, 2017

          The Antitrust Week In Review

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

          Four Apple contractors accuse Qualcomm of antitrust violations.  iPhone chip supplier Qualcomm Inc. faces a new set of antitrust allegations from a group of four companies that assemble the iPhone and other products on behalf of Apple Inc.  Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Wistron Corp, Compal Electronics Inc and Pegatron Corp alleged that Qualcomm violated two sections of the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law.  The accusations, made in a filing late on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, are counterclaims to a Qualcomm lawsuit filed in May seeking to force the contractors to pay Qualcomm license fees that Apple directed them to stop paying.

          Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan to Pay $148 Million to End Yen Libor Cases in U.S.  Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have agreed to pay a combined $148 million to end private U.S. antitrust litigation claiming they conspired with other banks to manipulate the yen Libor and Euroyen Tibor benchmark interest rates.  The preliminary settlements, totalling $77 million for Deutsche Bank and $71 million for JPMorgan, were detailed in filings late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  They followed similar settlements last year with Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc totalling $23 million and $35 million, respectively.

          U.S. judge rejects class actions over Internet music prices.  A Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday said consumers accusing several big music companies of conspiring to inflate prices of music sold over the Internet and on compact discs cannot pursue their claims in class actions.  U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska’s 89-page decision is a victory for Sony Corp., Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and various affiliates in the 11-year-old lawsuit, which the judge said has been delayed by extensive disputes over evidence.  Consumers accused the defendants of taking unfair advantage of their 80 percent share of the U.S. market for online music, and that by making such music “less attractive” to buy were able to drive up CD prices.

          Qualcomm loses appeal against EU threat of daily fine.  U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm faces the threat of a daily fine of 580,000 euros ($665,000) for failing to provide EU antitrust regulators with information after losing an appeal against the penalty in a European Union court on Monday.  Qualcomm, which was charged by the European Commission for using anti-competitive methods to squeeze out British phone software maker Icera, last month asked the Luxembourg-based General Court to suspend the order.  The Commission welcomed the court verdict, while Qualcomm declined to comment.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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