Anti-competitive business practices refer to illegal behavior that limits or prevents fair market competition. They generally lead to higher prices, reduced quality or levels of service, or less innovation. Anti-competitive practices include activities such as monopolization, price fixing or discrimination, group boycotts, or merger among competitors, among others.
A well-known company that was in the news recently is Peloton. Peloton is a 7-year-old fitness-tech company, that offers an at-home streaming subscription service with more than 13,000 recorded workout classes (most of which incorporate music). The story started in March, when the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), a group of music publishers, filed a $150 million copyright infringement lawsuit against Peloton. NMPA claimed that Peloton knowingly used thousands of songs in its workout videos from over 1,000 high-profile musicians like Bruno Mars, Drake, Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga without proper licensing. Peloton denied all allegations and said there was no infringement; the company properly and lawfully obtained all necessary licenses and paid all music publishers and independent record labels. In April, Peloton responded by filing a countersuit against NMPA for antitrust violations, alleging that the NMPA pushed a coordinated effort among its members to “fix prices and to engage in a concerted refusal to deal with Peloton.” The countersuit also states, “Through these actions, the NMPA has exceeded the bounds of legitimate conduct for a trade association and become the ringleader of concerted activity among would-be competitor music publishers, all in violation of antitrust law.” The behaviors in this particular case that point to horizontal restraints of trade include: 1) price fixing – a collaboration between members of the NMPA to manipulate pricing; and 2) refusal to deal – NMPA prevented its members from teaming up with Peloton.
I find mergers and acquisitions fascinating. In an effort to remain relevant, cutting edge, and steal market share from competitors, mergers and acquisitions are a must in the business world. The topic I chose for this exercise is vertical mergers.
Vertical mergers happen when two firms with a buying and selling relationship merge to form one company. At the end of the day, it’s about gaining a strategic advantage in the marketplace. What synergies and economies of scale can be taken advantage of when two companies become one? Over the last few years, vertical mergers have made a comeback. Can you find success swimming upstream to take advantage of the vertical chain?
The most recent example is the mergers of AT&T and Time Warner. As technology improves and becomes more prominent in our day-to-day lives, I’m certain we’ll more vertical mergers in the near future.