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GE-Electrolux Antitrust Case Coming To Court

Prospective GE Appliance purchaser Electrolux will have its first day in court later this month.

There, the No. 2 majap maker will mount a defense against a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust suit seeking to block the proposed $3.3 billion merger.

Electrolux lawyers will go in buttressed by a motion, granted late last month by a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, allowing GE and Electrolux to subpoena Korean competitors Samsung and LG as part of the discovery process. Their objective: to demonstrate that the DOJ is misreading the global appliance industry, which is fueling robust competition in the U.S. market, and that the suit is based on flawed analysis.

Electrolux has also cited a litany of recent majap industry developments supporting it competitive-market contention, including:

*a major U.S. push by Turkish powerhouse Arcelik/Blomberg, announced at this month’s 2015 IFA show;

*Haier’s $72 million expansion of its South Carolina manufacturing complex, announced last month;

*a planned $2.7 million R&D facility by Chinese majap giant Midea, to be built in GE’s backyard; and

*Best Buy’s aggressive rollout of Samsung appliance shops.

For its part, the DOJ fears a commercial appliance duopoly, given GE’s strength in the homebuilders’ channel, and the pair’s possible domination of the cooking category.

As Assistant Attorney General Leslie Overton stated earlier this summer, the merger “would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to price increases for ranges, cooktops and wall ovens.”

A status hearing is set for Sept. 29, and the case is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 9.