May 16, 2014

European Commissioner Rebuffs German CEO’s Criticisms Of Google Search Engine Settlement

A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

By Michael Petrides

The European Commission’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, is strongly defending the EC from charges that its proposed settlement with Google concerning search engine practices would permit Google to expand its dominant market position.

Commissioner Alumina’s defense of the proposed settlement joins a debate with Matthias Döpfner, CEO of German publishing giant Axel Springer.

This blog commented in February on Google’s proposed commitments to settle its long-running antitrust case with the EC over its search engine practices. In the meantime, and before the commitments have been “market tested,” Döpfner has launched a scathing attack against the antitrust regulator.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

    April 15, 2014

    Barclays Settles Second LIBOR Mis-Selling Case

    A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

    By Natalia Mikolajczyk

    Barclays confirmed on Friday that it has settled another case alleging that it mis-sold LIBOR-tied derivative products.

    The lawsuit was filed by Domingos Da Silva Teixeira (DST), a family-owned construction and property company based in Braga, Portugal. As reported by the Financial Times, DST alleged that the British bank engaged in mis-selling, which involves misrepresenting the characteristics of a product or service, by “repeatedly induc[ing] it to restructure and replace its derivative products.”

    DST identified 16 allegedly unsuitable derivative transactions, including interest-rate swaps, commodity-based swaps and a foreign-exchange swap. DST sought damages of 11.1 million euros ($15.4 million) in its claim before the Commercial Court in London. Although Barclays has admitted in a June 2012 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that it engaged in rigging of LIBOR and EURIBOR, Barclays maintained that DST did not suffer any loss from the manipulation. click here for more »

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    Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      April 9, 2014

      Barclays Settles First LIBOR “Test Case”

      A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

      By Michael Petrides

      Barclays announced on Monday that it has reached an out of court settlement of British LIBOR-related litigation with Graiseley Properties, owner of Guardian Care Homes (GCH).

      The case concerned two interest rate swap contracts entered into by Graiseley and Barclays. Graiseley suffered substantial losses when base LIBOR rates fell.  Graiseley sought to escape its liability to Barclays by asserting claims that Barclays engaged in mis-selling, which involves misrepresenting the characteristics of a product or service.  Although Grassley originally alleged a case of innocent misrepresentation by Barclays, it succeeded in persuading the court to allow it to add fraudulent misrepresentation claims based on Barclay’s knowledge of LIBOR rigging once the LIBOR scandal became public knowledge.

      The case received publicity as a result of its being treated as a test case for other LIBOR rigging claims and because of certain comments by judges hearing applications in the case that were critical of Barclay’s arguments.  It was expected that the trial this month would have led to the public disclosure of a large volume of documents relevant to LIBOR rigging (up to 200,000 documents according to pre-trial hearings) as well as embarrassing testimony by key former employees, including former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, who resigned in 2012 following the LIBOR-related fines imposed by the U.K. Financial Services Authority.

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        February 11, 2014

        Google Agrees To Search Engine Makeover To Settle European Antitrust Case

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Michael Petrides

        The announcement by the European Commission on February 5, 2014, that it has received a set of “improved commitments” from Google in their stand-off over the Internet giant’s search engine practices signals not only the beginning of the end of a four-year antitrust battle, but also a new chapter in online search and search advertising.

        Under the settlement, which is awaiting final approval by the European Commission, Google would give its rivals more prominence in specialized search results, including those for shopping, travel and local business reviews.  The settlement would result in Google’s search engine in Europe looking substantially different look from the way it appears in the United States.  

        The European Commission’s case against Google dates back to November 2010, when the Commission launched an investigation after having received a total of 18 formal complaints against Google.  The probe focused on whether a series of Google business practices in online searches effectively amounted to an abuse of the company’s dominant position in the markets for web search, online search advertising and online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA) – in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. click here for more »

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        Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          February 10, 2014

          Umbrella Liability For Price Fixing: Does The Forecast Call For More Damages In The EU And U.S.?

          A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

          By Irene Fraile and Ankur Kapoor

          The European Union may be on the verge of embracing “umbrella liability”—a theory of liability that would significantly increase the exposure of members of anticompetitive cartels.

          The European Court of Justice is being urged by one of its advocates general to hold that, under EU law, victims of cartels can seek damages from cartel members for higher prices paid to non-cartel members that were able to raise their prices under the pricing “umbrella” created by the cartel. If the Court of Justice endorses such umbrella liability, antitrust liability in the EU could diverge from the approach evolving in U.S. courts which have been reluctant to embrace umbrella liability. click here for more »

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Legislation, Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

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