USA Tipline

Molten hot docs: The Tipline for 6 November 2020

GCR USA - 06 November 2020

In litigation, there are “hot” documents and then there are “molten-rock-spewing-from-the-Earth’s-crust hot” documents. The Department of Justice’s lawsuit seeking to block Visa’ $5 billion acquisition of Plaid included the latter. As Visa mulled buying the financial technology company, the Antitrust Division said one executive likened the competitive threat posed by Plaid to an island volcano with massive potential hidden beneath the water’s surface. The Visa executive did not settle for memorialising his metaphor with mere words, gracing antitrust experts with a hand-drawn illustration that would be the envy of any parents’ refrigerator.

Proposition 224 million: The Tipline for 5 November 2020

GCR USA - 05 November 2020

What’s in a name? $224 million, apparently. Only two of Tuesday’s US Senate races involved more financing than the campaigning related to California’s Proposition 22. After all of that, companies like Uber and Lyft won the right to call their workers “independent contractors” under the state’s labour law, presumably saving untold profits. That seems like a bargain when considering the US spent more than 62 times that much for who they could call POTUS.

Until every vote is counted: The Tipline for 4 November 2020

GCR USA - 04 November 2020

Patience is a virtue. That is something antitrust counsel are well aware of, even when their merging clients are not. The Federal Trade Commission yesterday cleared Stryker’s acquisition of rival Wright Medical 10 months after issuing a second request for information. Hopefully those tallying the final votes in the race for the White House are working on more of an early-termination-like schedule so we can all go back to focusing on competition.

Calling balls and hikes: The Tipline for 3 November 2020

GCR USA - 03 November 2020

After further review, the ruling on the field stands. DirecTV and the National Football League have failed to convince the Supreme Court to hear their appeal against a lower court’s holding that they must face claims of monopolising game broadcasts. The defendants return to a California district court equipped with a favourable statement from Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, who said the plaintiffs’ arguments appeared to run counter to antitrust principles and precedents.

Counting the votes: The Tipline for 2 November 2020

GCR USA - 02 November 2020

This weekend saw a flurry of last-minute campaigning by the presidential candidates, with President Donald Trump holding rallies in five different states on Sunday alone. While polls may now be scrambling to track who is leading in key swing states, it does not take Nate Silver to predict the outcome of a vote by the Federal Trade Commission on a pharmaceutical merger settlement. In a decision that split down party lines, the agency on Friday conditionally approved the tie-up between Pfizer’s Upjohn division and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Today's Tipline also has a look at the first hearing in the antitrust case brought against Google by the Department of Justice and several state attorneys general.

Third time’s a charm: The Tipline for 30 October 2020

GCR USA - 30 October 2020

If at first you don’t succeed, buy, buy again. Sanford Health’s last two major merger attempts fell apart following a long legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission and a merging company that backed out of their deal after 18 months of negotiations. But Sanford is not giving up on its dream to consolidate the health system market, announcing plans last week to combine with Intermountain Healthcare. Former FTC attorneys say the deal is unlikely to face a commission challenge, but staff may be eyeing another theory of harm.

A call to action: The Tipline for 29 October 2020

GCR USA - 29 October 2020

Reinvigorating antitrust enforcement has not been a stump speech staple for former vice president Joe Biden in the same way it was for some of his challengers for the Democratic nomination. That does not mean his campaign is not talking tough on the subject – you just need to look in different places, like a closed-to-press virtual fundraiser. A senior economic advisor to the Biden campaign told attendees during Tuesday evening’s event that the Democratic nominee is “deeply concerned” about the growing problem of monopoly power. We have more on that as well as the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s refusal to solve the Federal Trade Commission’s Qualcomm problem.

Turkey leftovers: The Tipline for 28 October 2020

GCR USA - 28 October 2020

Nothing spoils the holidays like the outbreak of a deadly pathogen. The good news is, those of us who purchased certain Thanksgiving turkeys from 2010 through 2017 may be one step closer to antitrust damages. An Illinois federal court has rejected a motion to gobble up price-fixing claims brought by a group of indirect purchasers. Any hypothetical claim may be years away and might only cover the cost of canned cranberry sauce, but you can rejoice in the hope that the bird you are eating could be competitively priced. Vegetarian? GCR USA has plenty of other options in today’s Tipline including a potential DOJ challenge to a Visa merger and legislation immunising certain occupational licensing boards.

Six-to-three: The Tipline for 27 October 2020

GCR USA - 27 October 2020

Regardless of the outcome of next week’s election, the front office of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division will welcome some new faces come 2021. Assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim has already indicated he is likely to step down early next year, while his principal deputy, Bernard Nigro, worked his last day at the division on Friday. Whoever takes over at the helm may have a more challenging task for the foreseeable future as the Supreme Court appears to take a significant shift to the right as Judge Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in as a justice.

Infrastructure Week: The Tipline for 26 October 2020

GCR USA - 26 October 2020

The Trump administration has not yet delivered on its campaign promise for a broad overhaul of the US infrastructure apparatus, but the Department of Justice’s antitrust division is popping out infrastructure-related cases like they are candy on Halloween. On Friday, the DOJ announced a pair of merger settlements it said would help protect competition for waste management and fibre-based telecommunications. The agency’s procurement collusion strike force, meanwhile, has churned out bid-rigging charges against a business and former executive accused of defrauding the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

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