John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project, inked a letter to Mr. Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, voicing his organization's concerns over "Google's ongoing anti-competitive behavior," which includes the search giant's proposed $12.5 billion merger with Motorola Mobility. The nearly 3-page letter criticizes Google's business behavior in detail with a particular focus on why Consumer Watchdog feels the merger with Motorola should be blocked.
The European Union's competition watchdog has decided to end its antitrust investigation of International Business Machines (IBM) after accepting a series of concessions by IBM, according to reports. IBM agreed to provide spare parts and technical information to other companies that will make it easier for the competition to perform mainframe hardware and software maintenance.
The European Commission has launched a formal investigation and opened antitrust proceedings to determine if Apple and several international publishers colluded to fix prices of eBooks. Publishers named in the investigation include Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Verlagsgrupe Georg von Holzbrinck.
The European Union is notorious for being sticklers when it comes to how companies do business and is ever watchful for what it perceives to be a potential monopoly. Concerns aside, the EU just granted approval to Western Digital, the world's second largest hard drive maker, to purchase Hitachi's HDD business for $4.3 billion, with Hitach being the third biggest player in the HDD market.
It's been nearly five months since Microsoft announced plans to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion, so why hasn't it happened yet? For the simple reason of waiting for regulatory approval. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved the merger back in June, and now so have regulators from the European Union who determined the deal "would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area."
The European Union frowns on mega-mergers and doesn't like it when a handful of companies control an entire industry. It's not afraid to spank companies that try to grab power, either; just ask Microsoft and Intel, who were each slapped with bowel-quiveringly huge antitrust fines in excess of 1 billion euros in the past. Now, Seagate and Western Digital find themselves in the regulatory spotlight as each company tries to take over competitors in the increasingly cut-throat hard drive business.
Microsoft is kind of like a six-year old in a lot of ways. It likes videogames. It pretty much does what it wants to do. And it definitely doesn't like being punished. The European Commission spanked the software giant with an unprecedented $1.3 billion dollar antitrust fine in 2008 after Microsoft thumbed its nose at the commission and refused to comply with orders to provide information that would help make Windows more accessible to third-party developers.
Microsoft's response? They told Dad what Mom said – or in this case, they filed an appeal with the General Court, the second highest court in the European Union.
Intel’s $7.68 billion acquisition of computer security company McAfee is now one step closer to being completed having received the necessary regulatory approval from the Federal Trade Commission earlier this week. The Santa Clara-based chip maker is now awaiting European Commission’s approval so it can close the transaction, which it hopes to do in early 2011.
"The Federal Trade Commission has concluded its review of the proposed McAfee transaction and has cleared it. We are continuing to work with the staff at the European Commission as they continue their review," said Kevin Sellers, vice-president for investor relations, in a statement.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the deal could come under heavy antitrust scrutiny after EU investigators expressed concerns about the deal in a preliminary review. Their main concern is that Intel’s plan to put security features directly in its chips could put McAfee’s rivals at a severe disadvantage.
Six LCD makers have been assessed fines of over $850 million (€648 million) by the European Commission for allegedly "operating a cartel which harmed European buyers of television sets, computers, and other products" infused with LCD technology. The companies involved include Samsung, LG, AU Optronics, Chimei InnoLux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and HannStar.
"Foreign companies, like European ones, need to understand that if they want to do business in Europe they must play fair. The companies concerned knew they were breaking competition rules and took steps to conceal their illegal behavior. The only understanding we will show is for those that come forward to denounce a cartel and help prove its existence," said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.
According to the European Commission, the six LCD makers colluded for four years to fix prices, including price ranges and minimum prices, and exchanged information on future production planning, capacity utilization, and other commercial conditions. What's more, the so-called cartel reportedly held monthly multilateral meetings some 60 times, most often in hotels in Taiwan.
While Samsung was one of the six LCD makers involved, the company "received full immunity" for bringing the cartel to the Commission's attention and providing information on how it was run.