Asia Tipline

Foreshadowing? The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 7 August 2020

GCR ASIA - 06 August 2020

Google is probably hoping that remarks made this week by Australian competition boss Rod Sims do not foreshadow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s final decision on its acquisition of health tracking company Fitbit. Sims – not for the first time – took direct aim at large digital platforms, expressing concerns about how their past and future acquisitions of smaller rivals could harm competition, among several other issues. North of Australia, there have been rumblings that China’s antitrust watchdog may be preparing an investigation of major domestic technology companies Alibaba and Tencent, which own mobile payment platforms AliPay and WeChat Pay, respectively.

Reverse merger: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 31 July 2020

GCR ASIA - 31 July 2020

While not nearly as exciting as the “Big Tech” antitrust hearings before the US House of Representatives this week, a recent report has claimed that Google has a project focused on accessing sensitive data about third-party applications on its Android platform and uses that information to mould its own services. The report claims that Google used this “Android Lockbox” project to monitor how consumers were using the popular video-sharing app TikTok in India after the government announced it was banning the Chinese-backed service. Google denies collecting any information about in-app activity from third party applications, but the claims could raise competition concerns. Amazon found itself denying a similar pattern of behaviour in the US last summer – claiming it does not use data from third-party sellers on its platform to compete with its own Amazon-branded products.

Investigating the investigation: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 24 July 2020

GCR ASIA - 24 July 2020

After several months off due to the covid-19 pandemic, it was pedal to the metal this week in the Penrith Local Court, where a judge is hearing pre-trial arguments on evidence in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s landmark ANZ cartel case. The week featured cross-examinations of three ACCC officials involved in the investigation, all of whom were on the receiving end of intense scrutiny about the agency’s investigatory process. We have two stories from that hearing, coverage of the first cartel settlement in Hong Kong’s fledgling competition regime and Singapore putting out covid-19 guidance.

A new era with an old face: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 17 July 2020

GCR ASIA - 17 July 2020

TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison have finally completed their merger in Australia. The two telecommunications companies announced their tie-up nearly two years ago, but an antitrust challenge and slightly-delayed shareholder approval led to a lengthy holding period before the deal could be completed. We have a diverse briefing this week – the five stories hail from five different countries and touch on several different issues. Pakistan is embarking on a new era of antitrust enforcement after the government reappointed Rahat Hassan as chair of the competition watchdog.

Sheep lice and dog earaches: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 10 July 2020

GCR ASIA - 10 July 2020

It seems that Elanco Animal Health’s strategy of divesting the rights to several animal treatments to push its far-bigger acquisition of Bayer’s animal health business has paid off. Those already planned divestitures featured heavily in yesterday’s clearances of the tie-up in Australia and New Zealand.

The final stretch: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 3 July 2020

GCR ASIA - 03 July 2020

It’s not clear where he is heading, but Brent Snyder has decided to step down at the end of his first term as the chief executive at Hong Kong’s Competition Commission. He joined the agency just years after the country implemented a competition law and by all accounts has put it on track for future success. Time will tell who his replacement will be – he even agreed to stay on for an extra six months to make the transition smooth – and practitioners hope they will be as or more ambitious in driving the territory’s competition regime forward.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 26 June 2020

GCR ASIA - 26 June 2020

Hong Kong – the home of GCR’s Asia-Pacific office – celebrated a public holiday on Thursday commemorating the death of Chinese national hero Qu Yuan. The annual celebration falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and typically includes massive races between teams in dragon boats – long, thin boats that typically include a dragon’s head and tail on the front and back. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, celebrations this year throughout Greater China will be more muted, with some races being cancelled or not allowing spectators. For now, we have a pair of India stories regarding competition in the digital economy – one dealing with conduct and another a proposed merger.

Happy 20th anniversary, KPPU: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 19 June 2020

GCR ASIA - 19 June 2020

A video featuring the heads of the competition authorities in Australia, Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan appeared on the Twitter account of Indonesia's Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU) on Monday to wish the agency a happy 20th anniversary. Rod Sims, the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, praised the KPPU for playing an important role in the success of the Indonesian economy.

To fine or not to fine: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 12 June 2020

GCR ASIA - 12 June 2020

In a series of recent decisions, there appears to be some divergence in the Asia-Pacific region on the need to conclude investigations with fines. A cartel case in India against major global companies ended without fines, because the competition watchdog felt that cease-and-desist commitments were sufficient. Japan’s competition authority, which has been testing out its newfound power to accept commitments in lieu of long, drawn out antitrust investigations, also accepted commitments in a resale price maintenance probe – and the company did not have to admit guilt. But down in New Zealand, a court issued fines (with the competition authority’s support) against cartelists who admitted to their behaviour and seemingly violated the country’s antitrust law by accident. The defendants may count themselves lucky, as New Zealand is less than a year from criminalising such conduct.

Aussie airline turbulence: The Asia-Pacific Tipline for 5 June 2020

GCR ASIA - 05 June 2020

Qantas this week said that Australia has one of the most competitive airline industries in the world. But with Virgin Australia recently filing for bankruptcy, Qantas expressing an interest in acquiring a majority stake in rival Alliance Airlines and other rival Regional Express accusing the flagship carrier of anticompetitive dumping, all eyes are on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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