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Capital One Should Discover Merger Dead as FTC Hits Kroger & Inner City Press FOIAs Fed

by Matthew R. Lee

SOUTH BRONX, Feb 26 – Capital One will apply to buy Discover, in an anticompetitive deal that should be rejected by regulators if they mean what they have been saying. Public hearings should be held, not only on antitrust but also lending disparities at both companies. 

  On February 20 Capital One CEO Rich Fairbanks bragged about communications he's had with the regulators, then referred to "customary regulatory approvals." Inner City Press immediately submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the Federal Reserve and OCC for all such communications. Both agencies confirmed receipt.

 But still no records as of February 26, when the FTC came out against Kroger's proposed $24.6B purchase of Albertsons, saying it "threatens shoppers & workers." So how could Capital One / Discover be approved?

 The call, a transcript of which was not posted hours later, consisted of largely craven questions from Capital One's stable of "analysts," including Goldman Sachs' Ryan Nash, TD Cohen's Moshe Orenbuch, from Citi an Aaron sitting in for Jill Shea, and finally JPMorgan's Rich Shane, who said "I'm not big on saying this on calls, but... congratulations." Really.

 As documented by Fair Finance Watch, Discover Bank in 2022 denied mortgage loans application from African Americans more than twice as frequently as those of whites. 

  Previously, Inner City Press and NCRC challenged Capital One's acquisition of ING Direct, see here.This time, given the antitrust enforcement claims being made in DC, this proposal should be dead in the water. Watch this site. 


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