Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case
Australia’s competition watchdog launched a court action against Google in July alleging the California-based company misled account holders about its use of their personal data. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 21 October 2020

Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case
  • Competition and Consumer Commission launched Australian court action against Google in July

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog will consider its own antitrust case against Google, the commission chairman said Wednesday after the US Justice Department sued the company for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.
Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims described the US case filed Tuesday as one of the world’s biggest antitrust cases in the past 20 years.
“I’m delighted the D.o.J.’s taking it on and we’ll follow it really closely,” Sims told the National Press Club, referring to the US Department of Justice.
“We’re going to look at it and see whether there’s any value in what we might do,” Sims added.
Separately, Sims is drafting legislation to address the imbalance in bargaining power between Google and the Australian media businesses that want the tech giant to pay for journalism.
The bills, that will be ready to be introduced to Parliament by December, would empower an arbitrator to make binding decisions on how much Google and Facebook must pay media companies for news content.
Sims said his commission “had a lot of talk” with the US Justice Department before he released a report in July last year that recommended more government regulation on the market power of Google and Facebook that would ensure fair deals for other media businesses and more control for individuals on how their data was used.
Sim’s commission launched Australian court action against Google in July alleging the California-based company misled account holders about its use of their personal data.
The commission alleges the Google misled millions of Australians to obtain their consent and expand the scope of personal information that Google collects about users’ Internet activity to target advertising. Google denies the allegations.
In October last year, the commission sued Google in an Australian court alleging the company broke consumer law by misleading Android users about how their location data was collected and used. That case will be heard by the Federal Court next month. Google also denies that allegation.
Sims said Google was lobbying “every politician at Parliament House” ahead of draft legislation being introduced to make it pay for news.
Google has said the proposed laws would result in “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,” put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data “being handed over to big news businesses.”
Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it.


KBW Ventures increases stake in US cellular seafood company

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
Updated 19 January 2021

KBW Ventures increases stake in US cellular seafood company

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
  • BlueNalu produces a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells
  • KBW Ventures invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models

DUBAI: KBW Ventures, the company founded by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, was among a group of backers who agreed to refinance $60 million of debt held by a Californian cellular agriculture seafood company, it was announced on Tuesday.

BlueNalu produces a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells. In addition to the latest debt financing, it previously raised $4.5 million in early 2018 and $20 million in 2020.

The San Diego company aims to use the funding to open a 40,000 square foot pilot production facility as part of its bid to launch a pilot program and eventually distribute its products across the US.

“The team at BlueNalu is driven to produce cell-based seafood products that are healthy for consumers, humane for animals, sustainable for our planet and provide increased food security to each nation in which we go to market,” said Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu president and CEO.

“This recent round of funding will allow us to continue advancing our mission and the next phase of our commercialization plans, while we continue to develop strategic partnerships that we expect will provide us with global market reach during the coming years.”

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, added: “We have increased our stake in BlueNalu by investing for the second time. Our commitment to inject further capital is based on the company’s impressive forward roadmap, detailing a clear path to ramping up production and bringing its first product to market at this crucial period in the pandemic. KBW Ventures is pleased to play a role in the largest round ever for a cell-based seafood company, aligning ourselves with mission-driven businesses that seek to solve the world’s food security issues sustainably.”

Amir Feder, BlueNalu’s CFO, said the company is confident it can penetrate the lucrative $200 billion global seafood market and that it is in the process of signing up a series of international strategic partners.

Last month, KBW Ventures also increased its investment in a Singapore-based biotech company aiming to produce lab-grown dairy products. TurtleTree Labs raised $6.2 million as part of its latest round of funding. Besides KBW Ventures, other investors included Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global and Verso Capital.

Founded in 2019, TurtleTree Labs, which has offices in San Francisco and Singapore, will use the funds to accelerate research and production of functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human milk.

The company hopes these will have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition and offer a viable alternative to animal-based dairy products.

KBW Ventures invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models. Its other investments include the Colorado-based pet food firm Bond Pet Foods and California’s Beyond Meat.