Google spends $2.1 billion on a Manhattan office building. It’s one of the highest prices paid for an office building in the U.S. in recent years, and a psychological boost for New York City’s commercial property market, which is struggling with record-high vacancy rates. The tech giant has 12,000 employees in the city, and plans to hire 2,000 more.
The Treasury Department targets cryptocurrency’s role in ransomware attacks. As part of a series of actions to prevent cybercrime, the department placed sanctions on Suex, a crypto exchange based in Russia that it said facilitated payments in multiple attacks. In 2020, ransomware payments topped $400 million, four times larger than the year before, according to officials.
The D.O.J. takes aim at “de facto merger” of airlines
The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit yesterday against American Airlines and JetBlue, arguing that a growing alliance between the two carriers hurts consumers. In bringing the suit, officials called the cooperation a “de facto merger” between the carriers in the New York and Boston markets. Attorneys general in six states and the District of Columbia joined the action. The airlines said they planned to fight the suit in court.
It’s the latest effort by the Biden administration to limit corporate power through antitrust actions. The airline industry’s troubles during the pandemic, which crushed carriers’ revenue, didn’t appear to factor into the decision to sue. “Neither airline is failing; they received billions of dollars in subsidies from American taxpayers over the course of the pandemic,” the charge noted, underlining that playing the failing-firm card would not lower the antitrust standards set by the White House. (Propping up the industry with more than $50 billion in grants was itself contentious.)
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“American has relentlessly pursued a strategy of industry consolidation,” the suit said. “Unable to combine with foreign airlines through formal mergers, American has instead pursued consolidation through a series of international joint ventures.” American is the world’s largest airline and it, along with Delta, United and Southwest, controls over 80 percent of domestic U.S. air travel. JetBlue’s reputation for challenging bigger rivals, forcing them to lower their fares from hubs like Boston, is a “critical source of competition” eliminated by its partnership with American, according to Richard Powers, an acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s antitrust division.
The government’s move could dash any plans for future airline deals. Shares of one of the last remaining targets of a takeover that might pass muster, Alaska Airlines, closed more than 1 percent down yesterday and dropped a bit more in after-hours trading.