The “F-word”: The Tipline for 9 December 2020
GCR USA - 09 December 2020
The easiest way to spot that someone is not an antitrust reporter is if they complain about the US competition agencies being inactive. Hours after the Federal Trade Commission lost its bid to block a Philadelphia hospital merger, the agency sued to stop Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of a women’s razor company. The deputy director of the FTC’s bureau of competition and two agency commissioners also spoke at separate events on Tuesday. And that is before we even mention the “F-word”, with several reports suggesting the commission’s lawsuit against Facebook could be expected today.
The most good for the greatest number: The Tipline for 8 December 2020
GCR USA - 08 December 2020
Federal Trade Commission member Christine Wilson said yesterday that she believes antitrust law informed by “continually refined economic analysis” is the “best way to achieve the most good for the greatest number”. Classical utilitarians Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill likely would have been fans of that comment. Also in Tipline, the FTC is granted a temporary restraining order against a real estate advertising deal and Chick-Fil-A reveals its involvement in the Department of Justice’s broiler chicken probe.
Cheaper by the dozen: The Tipline for 7 December 2020
GCR USA - 07 December 2020
As Facebook acquired companies with the ease of a college freshman sending out friend requests, it might have missed an opportunity by not purchasing itself a marquee law firm. Sure, a company can always go the old-fashioned route of picking up one in-house counsel at a time, but think of the potential synergies from bringing on a whole firm. With multiple competition-related probes against the social media company reportedly building momentum, two private plaintiffs hope they landed the first antitrust punch last week in a lawsuit that cited heavily from the House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee’s report.
Some competition problems by Fort Lee: The Tipline for 4 December 2020
GCR USA - 04 December 2020
The Federal Trade Commission sued to block a merger of two hospital systems in northern New Jersey yesterday on the grounds that it would give Hackensack Meridian Health control of half of Bergen County’s six hospitals. Bergen offers some stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, but the defendants might run into issues expanding the commission’s geographic market definition. Gubernatorial aides in the state have a history of shutting down access to the bridge leading to New York as a form of political revenge. Also in Tipline, the Department of Justice intervenes in another dental board lawsuit and a group of peanut farmers receive class certification.
Accelerating change: The Tipline for 3 December 2020
GCR USA - 03 December 2020
During GCR Interactive: Foreign Investment and Protectionism yesterday, US practitioners emphasised that heavier scrutiny of Chinese transactions began during the Obama administration, not the Trump administration. The outgoing president “just really accelerated the change in thinking”, said Arent Fox partner David Hanke. Their comments came as a bipartisan committee on China suggested that the Federal Trade Commission develop a process to measure how foreign government subsidies facilitate proposed mergers. Also in Tipline, FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra wants to use so-called crown jewel provisions in consent decrees and a DC court sends the Department of Justice back a step in its fight against Google.
Policy is personal: The Tipline for 2 December 2020
GCR USA - 02 December 2020
It is often said that “personnel is policy”. With a change of administrations in process, the world is closely watching as President-elect Joe Biden selects his policy teams, hoping to catch a hint of what the 46th president has in store. While his choices so far largely resemble a reunion of the Obama administration, it appears that Biden will have some progressive antitrust minds by his side come January. Also in Tipline, GCR USA commemorates Mayer Brown partner Mark Ryan, the first director of litigation at the Department of Justice’s antitrust division.
The competitors of tomorrow: The Tipline for 1 December 2020
GCR USA - 01 December 2020
We’re taking bets on the antitrust buzzwords of 2021 and “nascent” could be in the running. Or maybe not. The word appeared nine times in the Department of Justice’s complaint against the Visa/Plaid transaction but did not appear at all in Visa’s answer to the agency’s allegations.
Taxation without consolidation: The Tipline for 30 November 2020
GCR USA - 30 November 2020
The Department of Justice’s antitrust division often claims that its actions are designed to protect the American taxpayer. The agency’s conditional approval of Intuit/Credit Karma last week signalled a more direct approach to upholding that virtue, requiring the merging companies to sell Credit Karma’s free do-it-yourself tax preparation kit to Square. Unfortunately for readers in Washington, DC, the DOJ’s consent decree is not accompanied by any meaningful representation in Congress. Also in Tipline, two of the largest US book publishers announce plans to merge and the US Supreme Court prepares for oral arguments in a trio of antitrust-relevant cases.
Middle-Class Joe: The Tipline for 25 November 2020
GCR USA - 25 November 2020
President-elect Joe Biden often says others call him “Middle-Class Joe”. While the current president kicked off his initial bid for the White House by descending down a golden elevator in a skyscraper bearing his name, Biden preferred a different setting. The first official campaign stop for the “scrappy kid from Scranton” was Teamsters Hall 249 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His first policy proposal: a ban on non-competes. GCR USA will be back in your inboxes on Monday. Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Chiropractic relief: The Tipline for 24 November 2020
GCR USA - 24 November 2020
GCR sympathises with lawyers litigating remotely in the corners of their homes that happen to offer the best cell reception or a reprieve from noisy neighbours. The true beneficiaries of remote hearings though are the spines of courtroom attendees ordinarily forced to sit for eight-hour stretches lurched forward at a 70-degree angle on unforgiving wooden benches. In today’s Tipline, the Department of Justice has pushed back on Visa’s proposed trial date, which would save antitrust reporters several chiropractor trips. Meanwhile, Cigna may still face liability following its failed merger with Anthem and an Amazon critic has raised concerns about the digital platform’s entrance into the pharmacy space.