Expect more antitrust lawsuits as the economy seeks bottom. So says Michael L. Keeley, a partner in the antitrust group of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP. In this edition of Inside The Deal, Keeley tells Suzanne Stevens that two factors are in play: the likelihood of companies in a recession to more aggressively protect their turf, and an increased willingness among struggling companies to dedicate resources to litigation. Keeley, who also addressed the topic in a recent issue of The Deal newsweekly, says the number of antitrust lawsuits already filed this year exceeds those filed in all of 2007. Add that to President-elect Obama's stated intention to more actively pursue monopolistic conduct, and the courts should see plenty of antitrust activity in 2009.
At The Deal's M&A Outloook 2009 conference Robert Pitofsky, professor of antitrust & trade Georgetown University addressed how antitrust enforcement will change during the Obama administration.
What could an Obama administration may bring to the merger-clearance environment? In this edition of Inside The Deal, Michael Cohen, a partner at Paul Hastings explains to The Deal's Suzanne Stevens that there may be more strategic combinations than in prior years due to antitrust regulation. He also also explores the implications on the Federal Trade Commission's battle of Whole Foods Market Inc. and Wild Oats Markets Inc. integration.
John Glynn of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Jeffrey Schmidt of Linklaters spoke with The Deal's William McConnell at The Deal Economy 2010 about Obama's increased enforcement of antitrust and its effect on dealmaking and accounting standards.
Cadbury plc (NYSE:CBY) is expected next week to publish a formal defense (The Deal Pipeline subscription required) to Kraft Foods Inc.'s (NYSE:KFT) $16.3 billion hostile bid. In the meantime, the U.K. confectioner may be hoping a competing bid materializes from some combination of Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. (NYSE:HSY), Nestle SA of Vevey, Switzerland or Italy's Ferrero International SA. There's also been talk that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. might be interested in a bite of Cadbury. If another offer does arrive, it may bring with it some serious antitrust scrutiny, says John Briggs, co-chair of the antitrust practice group at Axinn, Veltrop and Harkrider LLP.
Competitive Enterprise Institute Information Policy Analyst Ryan Radia discusses the decision of European regulators to fine Intel $1.4 billion for alleged anti-competitive practices.
THE ANTITRUST REVOLUTION IN EUROPE: Exploring the European Commission’s Cartel Policy
By Lee McGowan
DEVELOPING EUROPEAN ANTITRUSTS TO DETER THE CARTELISTS IN A CHANGING ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
When we read through this book, it became apparent very quickly that the 200 odd pages are very relevant to a wide variety of readers: lawyers, academics and students alike. ‘The Antitrust Revolution’ as explained here has direct relevance to those studying regulatory politics and policy making in Europe.
As Lee McGowan writes in his Preface, “interest in European competition policy has never been higher and the literature has never been richer!” Well said!
Recent reviews by the European Commission in all areas of competition law are taking place. So, when considering the evolution, aims and developments of antitrust policy, McGowan’s focus on the way the Commission has sought to combat cartels is very timely.
This book is actually as much about politics as it is about the public policy approach to developments and his historic analysis combined with careful empirical work underpins the entire thesis. Probably the most useful area for many readers is the investigation into what can be described as the ‘internationalisation’ of European cartel policy thus explaining the future external and internal challenges which will be faced in the near future.
McGowan states that ‘cartels have very rarely attracted the attention of political science’ whilst ‘cartel-busting has always been one of the foremost activities of the Commission’! Whilst there may be a debate between commentators on whether the recent reforms are ‘revolutionary’ or merely ‘the latest development in a regime that has been continually marked by the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s’ one thing is clear- ‘we are living in interesting times’ as the current economic downturn impacts on competition law.
There are 8 chapters covering these points: the origins and scope of European competition policy; uncovering cartels; the rise of the cartel; the dawn of the competition principle from 1945-1957; establishing the architecture of EU cartel governance; European cartel policy 1963-1998; the antitrust revolution from 1999; and internationalization of cartel policy.
We can highly recommend this book to lawyers, politicians and political scientists, especially those looking for a broader grounding in cartel policy as all the goal posts seem to be moving.
The final word can be left with the excellent Leon Brittan: ‘there is little doubt that competition policy finally came of age in the course of the last 20 years’… writing as he was in 2000. Then we had the sudden and unexpected collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.
This leads McGowan to a reasonable conclusion on the penultimate page of the main text- ‘whatever the future holds for European competition policy… and softening is expected in certain areas… the war against cartels is unlikely to change’.
He is right, but one thing remains- we do not know what will happen in the changing economic environment, and no-one has a crystal ball for that: it’s a great read McGowan, so thanks at least for the ideas!
*******www.lawcrossing****/video/5340/Antitrust-and-Trade-Regulation-Attorney-Jobs/ - Attorneys are considered to be the backbone of the society as they are responsible for maintaining law and order in the society.
India’s Competition Commission confirmed that Google is undergoing an antitrust investigation after a match-making website filed a complaint against its “alleged discriminatory practices” in AdWords. An Indian dating website has filed the complaint against the search engine giant, alleging that it has breached the country’s antitrust laws for its advertising unit, AdWords. The complaint accused Google of luring 2 Indian dating sites into a bidding war over its ad keywords in online search.
1. Microsoft Seeks Allies For New Yahoo Bid: Report, Yahoo Shares Slide, 2. Microsoft Confirms Plans To Purchase Search Firm Powerset, 3. Google - Yahoo Deal Subject Of Antitrust Probe: Report
Pfizer Inc. hopes to close its $68 billion deal to buy Wyeth by the end of 2009. To get there it will have to pass muster with antitrust regulators and credit agencies. Then the real work of integration begins. In this edition of Inside the Deal, Robbert van Batenburg, head of equity research for Louis Capital Markets, tells Suzanne Stevens that the stakes for both companies are high. But with its patent on the blockbuster Lipitor set to expire in 2010 and a limited pipeline to offset the loss, the risks of the deal collapsing would be particularly damaging for Pfizer.
BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN
You're watching multisource business and tech video news analysis from Newsy.
Two tech giants go head-to-head. Microsoft has filed a formal complaint against Google -- alleging antitrust practices.
(News 12) “It claims Google is abusing its position as the dominant Internet search engine - to fight off competition. The Microsoft complaint adds to an existing investigation by European Union leaders -- into Google's practices.”
More specifically - Microsoft outlined six reasons behind its complaint. Those include Google’s alleged practice of blocking Windows phones from YouTube metadata -- and blocking access to advertisers.
A Bloomberg panel notes -- this all sounds kinda familiar.
“...how quickly the tech tables turned. ... Also saying that as for advertising the way Google runs its ads stifling competition when it comes to Microsoft. Pretty funny when you consider it was not that long ago Microsoft was on the other end on antitrust. The largest antitrust case in history. My how quickly the tech tables turn. We will see how it plays out. Remember ‘Don't be evil?’ You did not hear that as much anymore.”
It’s been almost a decade since that antitrust case against Microsoft was settled.
In the case against Google - Microsoft wouldn’t be the primary beneficiary - and the company says this is the first time it’s filed an antitrust complaint.
PC World’s Jon Brodkin reminds readers - the case against Microsoft began a rapid decline in the company’s browser share -- and wonders if the same will happen to Google.
“Since its peak of 95% browser share, Internet Explorer has rapidly lost ground to Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome. By some counts, Microsoft now has less than half of the browser market... Will Google ... become the new antitrust bad boy? Only time will tell.”
As for Google? A spokesperson told reporters the company is - quote - “not surprised” by the formal complaint -- since one of Microsoft’s subsidiaries has already filed a complaint with the EU Commission.
But as InformationWeek suggests - Microsoft throwing its weight behind the complaint adds a thicker layer of scrutiny for Google.
“Microsoft's complaint takes the probe to another level and directs the EU's attention toward whether Google is denying a major rival access to key technologies necessary to index information on sites Google controls...”
Finally - ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley predicts -- this whole Google versus Microsoft thing -- hasn’t -- and ain’t -- going away any time soon.
“I’m already seeing lots of ‘pot, meet kettle,’ comments about this from the peanut gallery. But let’s not forget,Google was helping fuel the EU antitrust case brought by Opera against Microsoft... And before that, Microsoft ran afoul of the EU antitrust courts... Get ready for dueling monopolist banjos for the next few months/years.”
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Transcript by Newsy.
BY KELSEY WAANANEN
ANCHOR: AUSTIN KIM
You're watching multisource business video news analysis from Newsy.
The Justice Department is allowing Google to purchase the primary airline fare tracker, ITA Software. The $700-million deal approved Friday gives the Internet search Goliath control over the technology used by the reservation systems of most U.S. airlines and online fare-comparison services.
CNBC reports Google had to first agree to share the software, and the government will monitor Google for anti-competitive activity.
“They want to be sure that competitors are gonna be able to continue to access the very important data that ITA provides. So there will be mandatory arbitration. Google will have to report formally any complaints about their handling of ITA. They’ll have to continue to license software and develop it that the travel industry needs to operate and develop some internal firewall procedures to make sure that Google’s interest don’t override the interests of ITA customers.”
Google also had to promise that pricing for the software will be reasonable for existing flight services, and firewalls will protect personal information from unauthorized use. The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch points out the wider implications:
"But perhaps most importantly, this consent agreement, really for the first time in Google's history, sets up an ongoing government monitoring and oversight process. So Google's got their deal here, but for the first time in their 12 year history, they've let the government in the door and that, symbolically, is a big change for Google in its relationship with Washington."
A blogger for ZDNet says this is good news for consumers - and they are the ones coming out on top.
“I would argue, in fact, that this will also benefit users in terms of competition, not because it won’t crush Kayak ... but because the travel sites that want to survive are going to have to start getting creative.”
The Register, an online tech publication, says the big question now is whether the Federal Trade Commission will open a broad antitrust investigation of Google.
“The wordis that the FTC was waiting for the ITA acquisition to resolve before deciding whether to act. The concern is whether Google can use its web-search monopoly to build another monopoly, not only in the flight-search market but also in any other vertical search market.”
In a blog post, Google VP Jeff Huber wrote - the company was excited to get the deal approved, and will unleash its own travel search tool in the near future.
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BY KAI KANG
You're watching multisource business video news analysis from Newsy.
They’re calling it -- a “detergent cartel.” A soap-sudded conspiracy -- by major soap manufacturers?
Proctor and Gamble and Unilever have agreed to pay the European Commission -- $456 million dollars -- to settle price-fixing charges. Price fixing carried out from 2002 to 2005.
Germany’s Henkel -- a co-conspirator -- was let off the hook after becoming the prosecution’s key witness.
The EU's Competition Commissioner Joaquim Almunia described the scheme as seen on EUX.TV.
“They used this environmental initiative to reduce the size of the packages and to improve the environmental quality of the way of disposal. They also sought to agree on market shares and to agree on not reducing the prices even if the packages were smaller”
Both companies had their fines reduced because of their cooperation during the investigation. According to the Associated Press - P&G will pay $306 million in fines -- and Unilever $150 million. As reported by Financial Times...
“P&G and Unilever have now settled the matter with the European Commission, meaning that they benefit from a 10 per cent reduction in fines under Brussels’ new settlement guidelines. The two companies also co-operated in the investigation, which meant that P&G’s fine was cut by a further 50 per cent and Unilever’s fine was cut by a further 25 per cent.”
P&G has already had the money prepared, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The consumer products giant is headquartered in Cincinnati.
“P&G has been setting aside money to pay antitrust fines in Europe for some time. In January, the company disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had set aside $574 million to pay potential fines resulting from antitrust investigations in Europe.”
And the Dutch Daily News reports -- Unilever is accepting the fine as well. As Bloomberg reports - this is not the first time either company has been fined for forming cartels.
“Last year, Italy fined Unilever, P&G and 13 other companies for coordinating price increases for cosmetics. It didn’t fine Henkel because it was the first to inform regulators of the cartel.
German units of Unilever, Henkel and Sara Lee were fined about 37 million euros by the country’s cartel office in February 2008 for fixing toothpaste and detergent prices.”
The two companies say they have used the findings from this investigation to strengthen their own internal programs.
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BY ERIK SHUTE
AT&T’s $39 billion merger with T-Mobile must hurdle a few more roadblocks before signing on the dotted line -- seven more to exact.
“Seven state attorneys general joined the State Department antitrust suit to stop merger with T-Mobile and AT&T. They are concerned it would hurt competition.”
“DOJ suing to block the deal amended to add states, New York, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, bigger states, heavy hitters.”
At the heart of the suit is whether the merger would violate US anti-trust laws. One of the seven Attorney Generals, Eric Schneiderman of New York, says “no” to the mobile monopoly.
“This proposed merger would stifle competition in markets that are crucial to New York’s consumers and businesses, while reducing access to low-cost options and the newest broadband-based technologies.”
But not all seven are so rigid. According to CNET, Golden State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris says California is willing to compromise.
“I look forward to working with the parties involved to resolve this matter in a way that will create jobs in our state, encourage a vibrant technology sector, and protect competition in the marketplace.”
Former Congressman Rick Boucher says the merger would be good for states. He tells Web Pro News this merger could help fast-track U.S. broadband to 98% national coverage -- and check off another goal on President Barack Obama’s political docket.
“So the President’s goal is almost entirely fulfilled simply by allowing this merger to go forward. And I would simply note that the merger would be accomplished and broadband deployment would begin using entirely private money, it’s not tax support by any kind... I frankly don’t see a way the President’s goal of have 98% coverage by the end of his term can be reached with the absence of this merger.”
GigaOM reports AT&T has other states on its side. A spokesman for the mobile company explains,
“It is not unusual for state attorneys general to participate in DOJ merger review proceedings or court filings. At the same time, we appreciate that 11 state attorneys general and hundreds of other local, state and federal officials are publicly supportive of our merger.”
Other supporters include 15 Democratic lawmakers. According to the Wall Street Journal, they called on President Obama to approve the measure -- citing he cannot miss this opportunity to “embrace three job creation strategies” resulting from the merger.
Thank you for joining us. I am your host Sara Bryant at CRWE Newswire Stocks to watch. Terex Corporation - symbol TEX - reported that it has received clearance from the European Union to complete its previously announced purchase offer for Demag Cranes AG. With this approval, the final condition of closing has been met, and settlement of the purchase offer is anticipated to occur the week of August 15. Demag Cranes AG will add a new business segment to Terex with world-class products in industrial cranes and hoists, port technology and service. Demag Cranes AG’s business is highly complementary to the existing Terex business, and the combination has compelling industrial logic, with a strong footprint in Europe and emerging markets. Terex Corporation is a diversified global manufacturer operating in four business segments: Aerial Work Platforms, Construction, Cranes, and Materials Processing. Thank you for tuning in, have a great day. For CRWE Newswire, Stocks to watch, I’m Sara Bryant.
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