Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SCOTUS refuses to apply anti-trust laws to securities case

In CREDIT SUISSE SECURITIES (USA) LLC v. BILLING, buyers of securities brought an antitrust action against underwriting firms that market and distribute those issues. The buyers claimed that the underwriters unlawfully agreed with one another that they would not sell shares of a popular new issue to a buyer unless that buyer committed (1) to buy additional shares of that security later at escalating prices (a practice called “laddering”), (2) to pay unusually high commissions on subsequent security purchases from the underwriters, or (3) to purchase from the underwriters other less desirable securities (a practice called “tying”). SCOTUS held that the issues were governed bu the federal securities laws and not federal anti-trust statutes. In support of its decision, SCOTUS cited (1) the existence of regulatory authority under the securities law to supervise the activities in question; (2) evidence that the responsible regulatory entities exercise that authority; and (3) a resulting risk that the securities and antitrust laws, if both applicable, would produce conflicting guidance, requirements, duties, privileges, or standards of conduct.

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