The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Australian Federal Court has ordered Japanese cable supplier Viscas Corporation (Viscas) to pay a penalty of A$1.35 million for bid rigging and price fixing conduct. According to the ACCC, Viscas admitted to reaching an anti-competitive agreement with European and other Japanese suppliers of land cables in relation to an invitation to tender, under which "the tenderer with the lowest price would be one of the European suppliers", as part of "an overarching arrangement in relation to the allocation of projects involving those ... suppliers".
Antitrust regulators in the European Union have expanded their investigation into a small network of banks that allegedly unfairly controlled the derivative market. Barclays, JPMorgan, Chase and Deutsche Bank were already included in the investigation and it now has been broadened to include the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a trade organization for market participants. According to a statement from the European Commission, they “found preliminary indications that I.S.D.A. may have been involved in a coordinated effort of investment banks to delay or prevent exchanges from entering the credit derivatives business. Such behavior, if established, would stifle competition in the internal market in breach of E.U. antitrust rules.”
Germany's antitrust regulator the Bundeskartellamt has announced that it has fined Nestlé Deutschland AG (Nestlé Germany) €20 million for engaging in anti-competitive information exchanges with other food manufacturing companies. The Bundeskartellamt said that three other companies have already been fined as a result of the investigation, which revealed that a number of high level executives from competing companies had exchanged information about planned price increases.
Germany's antitrust regulator the Bundeskartellamt has announced that it has fined six companies, a brand association and associated individuals a total of €39 million for anti-competitive information exchange in an ongoing investigation. According to the Bundeskartellamt, the companies have been fined for exchanging information "about upcoming price increases, new demands for rebates from the retail trade and the state of negotiations with retailers", which was stated by Bundeskartellamt president Andreas Mundt to constitute "competition-relevant information which must not be exchanged".
The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Japanese freight forwarding firms "K" Line Logistics Ltd (K Line) and Yusen Logistics Co Ltd (Yusen Logistics) will pay criminal fines totalling US$18.9 million after they agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing for air cargo shipment services between the US and Japan. According to the DoJ, the fines result from a broader investigation which has seen guilty pleas from a further 14 companies and criminal fine payments of over US$120 million.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft €561 million (approximately US$733 million) for failing to honour a 2009 antitrust settlement order to provide European users of its Windows software with multiple web browser options. According to AP, the fine is a first, since the company is the first to fail to uphold the terms of an agreement with European Union (EU) authorities. European Commissioner Joaquín Almunia reportedly said "[a] failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly", and that the size of the fine was commensurate to the scale and length of the company's failure.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has made available its new policy document ACCC Compliance and Enforcement Policy (February 2013).
Speaking about the policy in a speech (21 February 2013) delivered in Sydney to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, ACCC chairperson Rod Sims stated that, in addition to the ACCC's timeless priority areas of "cartel conduct, anti-competitive agreements and misuse of market power", the policy identified the following areas as requiring emphasis:
Anheuser-Busch InBev revised its $20.1 billion bid to acquire Grupo Modelo this week, in an effort to convince U.S. antitrust authorities to allow the deal to proceed. Under the new deal, the company would sell the U.S. rights to the Grupo Modelo brands and a brewery currently owned by Grupo Modelo to Constellation Brands (Constellation), the world’s largest wine company, for $ 2.9 billion. As part of the original deal, Constellation also agreed to acquire Grupo Modelo’s 50% stake in Crown Imports, a joint venture between the two companies, for $1.85 billion. U.S. antitrust authorities had previously said the proposed deal would increase Anheuser-Busch InBev’s control of the American beer market and allow the company to raise its prices.
The United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has made available OFT: Our competition role - and how things are changing (6 February 2013), a speech delivered by OFT chairperson Philip Collins to the Law Society of Scotland In-house Lawyers Group in Edinburgh.
The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that it has reached a settlement with Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC (trading as Macmillan) in its e-books case, but will continue its legal actions against Apple and publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA) and Simon and Schuster for conspiring "to eliminate retail price competition, resulting in consumers paying millions of dollars more for their e-books".
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