Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

Articles Tagged with vertical concern

On April 25, 2016, the DOJ entered into settlement agreement approving Charter Communications, Inc.’s (“Charter”) acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. (“TWC”) and its related acquisition of Bright House Networks, LLC to create New Charter as long as the parties agreed to certain behavioral conditions.

DOJ’s Vertical Concerns Related to the Creation of New Charter

New Charter became the second largest cable company and third largest Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (“MVPD”).  MVPDs include cable companies such as Comcast, TWC and Charter, but also direct broadcast satellite providers (i.e., DirectTV and Dish Network) and telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon.

On December 11, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) approved Continental AG’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Veyance Technologies with conditions.   The settlement agreements requires Continental to divest the North American commercial vehicle air springs business of Veyance and to waive an exclusivity requirement in its supply agreement to resolve a vertical antitrust concern.

The Antitrust Division was concerned that the merger of rivals in the supply of new and replacement air springs for commercial vehicles in North America would have eliminated one of only three significant suppliers of air springs.  Commercial vehicle air springs are used in trucks, trailers and buses to provide stability to the suspension system, keep the tires in contact with the road and provide comfort and reduced driver fatigue in cabins and seats.

The Antitrust Division was concerned that the creation of a virtual duopoly would have facilitated anticompetitive coordination between the two remaining suppliers and risked price increases and reductions in the quality of service by limiting availability or delivery options to original equipment manufacturers.  Similarly, the Antitrust Division was concerned that the proposed acquisition would have reduced the number of significant suppliers of replacement air springs to commercial vehicle owners, which likely would have lessened competition in the North American aftermarket for commercial vehicle air springs.