Business digest: Judge rejects Apple attempt to curtail antitrust monitor

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Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:00 am

Apple Inc. antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich may continue his court-ordered duties after a judge rejected a bid by the computer maker to stop him from seeking out interviews with top company officials.

Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector general, was appointed in October to oversee the company’s compliance with terms of an electronic books price-fixing ruling. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled Apple “played a central role” in a scheme with publishers to fix the prices of e-books, and that the company violated antitrust laws in its contracts with five of the six biggest book publishers.

Apple asked that Bromwich be replaced while it appeals the antitrust judgment, saying he inappropriately sought to interview Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and board member Al Gore, a former U.S. vice president. The company also claimed that his hourly rate of $1,100, paid by Apple, is too much.

“Apple is not in a position to define for the monitor the scope of the monitor’s duties or how the monitor carries out those duties,” Cote said Monday at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, rejecting the company’s bid to block Bromwich from talking with Apple’s management. — Bloomberg News

Charter Communications Inc. has offered more than $60 billion for Time Warner Cable Inc., a move that could spark a new round of consolidation in the telecommunications industry.

If Charter succeeds, it would be a marriage of two of the nation’s biggest pay-TV and Internet providers. Combined, the two companies would have more than 15 million customers in the United States.

The offer, which was made Monday, is for $132.50 a share. Of that, $83 is in cash and roughly $49.50 is in Charter stock. Time Warner Cable shareholders would end up owning about 45 percent of the proposed new company. Time Warner Cable shares closed Monday at $132.40.

Time Warner Cable said its board of directors has “unanimously rejected” what it described as a “grossly inadequate proposal from Charter Communications.”

Charter has made no secret of its interest in acquiring Time Warner Cable and confirmed it had made previous offers for the past six months. It said it is going public to try to get Time Warner Cable shareholders behind its effort. — The Los Angeles Times

Google has been trying to expand beyond computers and telephones to living rooms, cars and bodies.

It made its way just a bit further into people’s homes Monday when it agreed to pay $3.2 billion in cash for Nest Labs, which makes Internet-connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms.

Nest will continue to operate independently under its own brand and expand its portfolio of connected versions of what it calls “unloved but important devices in the home.” — The New York Times

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