March 23, 2015

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

Take Google to Court, Staff Report Urged F.T.C.  The Federal Trade Commission is facing renewed questions about its handling of its antitrust investigation into Google, after documents revealed that an internal report had recommended stronger action.  The 2012 report, from the FTC’s bureau of competition, recommended suing the Internet search giant for anticompetitive practices, according to anonymous sources who saw the report.  In early 2013, the FTC voted unanimously against bringing charges after an investigation.  Google’s critics and competitors are arguing that the FTC failed to take appropriate action, and are urging the European Union to take action to rein in Google.

Tour Bus Companies Agree to Settle Antitrust Lawsuit.  Two of New York City’s biggest tour bus operators have agreed to pay $7.5 million and give up almost 50 of their stops in Manhattan to settle antitrust claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the New York State Attorney General.  The proposed settlement could reshape an industry that was allegedly monopolized after the two companies, City Sights and Gray Line New York, formed a joint venture called Twin America.

Sysco, FTC Battle Over What Stays Secret in Antitrust Tussle.  Sysco is accusing the Federal Trade Commission of failing to provide necessary information about its witnesses in advance of a hearing that will be crucial in determining whether the food distributor can rescue its merger with rival US Foods Inc.  The FTC filed a lawsuit in February asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a preliminary injunction blocking the $3.5 billion merger while an FTC administrative law judge holds a parallel proceeding to determine if the deal should be scrapped.

 

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Categories: Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    March 16, 2015

    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. Is Seeking Billions From Global Banks in Currency Manipulation Settlement.  The U.S. Department of Justice is putting a price tag of about $1 billion each on potential settlements that it is trying to reach with global banks that it is investigating for manipulation of currency markets, according to people claiming to be familiar with the talks.  The banks, however, are reportedly pushing back harder than in some previous negotiations, including those for mortgage-backed securities, and the final penalties could be lower.  The discussions could lead to settlements of government allegations of criminal activity in the currency markets against Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS Group AG.

    Apple Asks U.S. Appeals Court to Disqualify Antitrust Monitor.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard arguments on Tuesday on Apple’s latest effort to disqualify a court-appointed antitrust monitor.   Judge Dennis Jacobs sharply questioned the activities of Michael Bromwich, who was appointed as monitor after Apple was found liable for conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices.  Apple has repeatedly tried to have Bromwich sacked, pointing to his aggressively seeking interviews with executives and engaging in private discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice.

    EU Regulators Clear Aviva’s $8.3 Billion Bid for Friends Life.  European Union antitrust regulators approved British insurer Aviva’s proposed 5.6-billion-pound purchase of rival Friends Life, saying it did not have any competition concerns.  According to the European Commission, the merged company would have a moderate market share.

    Waste Management wins antitrust approval for Deffenbaugh deal.  The U.S. Department of Justice Department said on Friday that it granted antitrust approval for Waste Management’s purchase of waste disposer Deffenbaugh Disposal.  Waste Management, a $14 billion a year garbage and recycling giant, agreed to sell assets in Kansas and Arkansas in order to win Government approval for the $405 million deal.

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    Categories: Antitrust Litigation

      March 13, 2015

      UBS AG Foots $135 Million Bill To Settle Currency Antitrust Case

      By Hamsa Mahendranathan

      UBS AG reached a $135 million settlement with plaintiffs today in the In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

      UBS AG is the second bank to settle in this case—JPMorgan Chase & Co. settled with plaintiffs for $99.5 million in late January.  In addition to the settlement payments, both UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have agreed to provide plaintiffs with documents and other assistance in pursuing their claims against the remaining defendants.  The settlements come on the heels of Judge Lorna G. Schofield’s decision on January 28, 2015, denying defendants’ motion to dismiss.

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation

        March 9, 2015

        The Antitrust Week In Review

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

        SolarCity Sues Arizona Utility For Antitrust Violations.  SolarCity, a San Mateo based solar company filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona alleging that the Salt River Project, a utility based in Arizona, violated antitrust laws.  SolarCity is alleging that the utility has sabotaged the ability of Arizona consumers to switch to solar energy.

        Judge Sets Date for Hearings in Sysco-U.S. Foods Antitrust Suit.   The proposed merger of the nation’s two largest food distributors, Sysco Corp. and U.S. Foods Inc., will face a crucial test starting on May 5, with the start of a federal court hearing into the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit challenging the deal.  Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia scheduled the hearing to consider the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the deal pending the FTC’s full-blown administrative trial scheduled for July.

        Google’s Eric Schmidt Meets EU’s New Antitrust Chief.  Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, travelled to Brussels last week to meet the European Union’s new antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, ahead of a key decision on where to take the EU’s long-running investigation into the U.S. search giant.  For the past five years the EU has been investigating whether the U.S. search giant abuses its dominance of Europe’s online search market, where its market share of more than 90% far exceeds its share of the U.S. market.

        Apple, Google Poaching Settlement Appears Headed for Approval.  A federal judge seems satisfied with a new proposed $415 million settlement that would end a lawsuit in which tech workers accused Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to hold down salaries.  While Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California did not formally rule on whether she would preliminarily approve the new deal, she expressed no objections about the size of the settlement and set another hearing date to consider the $415 million deal.  Last August, Judge Koh rejected the previous proposed $324.5 million settlement as too low after one of the plaintiffs objected.

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        Categories: Antitrust Litigation

          March 2, 2015

          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. Asks If Comcast, Time Warner Cable Restricted Video Deals.  Federal regulators vetting Comcast Corp.’s proposal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. want to know if the cable giants tried to restrict Walt Disney Co. and other entertainment providers from offering programs to rival online video outlets.  Among other avenues of inquiry, the FCC has asked eight media companies, including CBS Corp. and Discovery Communications Inc., to describe any limits to online distribution imposed by the two largest U.S. cable providers.

          F.C.C. Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Classifying Broadband Internet Service as a Utility.  The Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service.  The new rules seek to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else.

          FTC Puts Conditions on Novartis AG’s Proposed Acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline’s Oncology Drugs.  Global pharmaceutical company Novartis AG has agreed to a proposed FTC consent decree that will require it to divest all assets related to its BRAF and MEK inhibitor drugs, currently in development, to Boulder, Colorado-based Array BioPharma to settle charges that Novartis’s $16 billion acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline’s portfolio of cancer-treatment drugs would likely be anticompetitive.  The FTC investigation is notable for its substantial cooperation with antitrust enforcers in Australia, Canada, and the European Union.

          Ninth Circuit Refuses to Rewind Netflix Win.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has agreed Netflix shouldn’t be on the hook for allegedly colluding with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to divvy up the market for online DVD rentals.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that Netflix and Walmart ran afoul of antitrust laws in their 2005 deal that transferred customers of Walmart’s DVD-rental subscription service to Netflix in return for Netflix’s agreement to promote Walmart’s DVD sales business.

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          Categories: Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy

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