5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending July 13

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is AT&T, which found out that it's battle with the U.S. Department of Justice over its acquisition of Time-Warner might not be over.

Also making the list this week are Google, which could face a huge fine in Europe for alleged antitrust violations; Facebook, which was hit with its first financial penalty stemming from the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal; Micro Focus, whose integration of its Hewlett Packard Enterprise software acquisition is proving more difficult than planned; and MasterCard, which was hit with an IT outage on Thursday.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

AT&T Faces Justice Department Appeal Of Time Warner Acquisition Case

AT&T may have thought its $85.4 billion acquisition of media giant Time-Warner was a done deal. But in a surprise move this week the U.S. Justice Department, which opposed the acquisition, appealed a federal judge’s ruling that allowed AT&T to proceed with the acquisition.

AT&T completed the acquisition June 14, just days after federal Judge Richard Leon ruled that the deal would not stifle competition. He also did not impose any conditions or restrictions on the merger’s approval.

But by law, the DOJ had up to 60 days after Judge Leon’s ruling to file an appeal. Now AT&T faces the prospect of additional litigation and even the prospect, however remote, of having to somehow reverse the acquisition.

Google Could Face New EU Antitrust Penalty For Android Practices

Google is facing another European Commission-imposed fine of billions of euros, this time for tactics that allegedly pressure smartphone vendors that use the Android mobile operating system to bundle Google applications.

Google Android accounts for about three-quarters of the mobile market in Europe and the EC has been scrutinizing potential abuses stemming from that dominance.

The EC, according to reports, will likely conclude that Google has been stifling competitors to protect advertising revenue from mobile devices, pressuring smartphone manufacturers to install Google Search and the Chrome browser on their phones.

In addition to what could be a record fine, the EC is expected to order Google to change its business practices. The fine could be levied as soon as this month.

Facebook Hit With First Financial Penalty In Data Privacy Case

Facebook was hit with a fine of 500,000 pounds by a British government watchdog agency this week over the social media giant’s potential misuse of personal data by a political consulting firm.

While 500,000 pounds (approximately $660,000) is small change for Facebook, the fine levied by the British Information Commissioner’s Office, which is charged with enforcing the country’s data protection laws, is the first financial penalty levied in the case, according to a report in the New York Times.

The 500,000 pound fine is the largest the agency can levy.

In March, the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers reported that data from some 50 million user profiles had been harvested and used by political consultant Cambridge Analytica without their consent. That number was eventually increased to 87 million.

The scandal has damaged Facebook’s reputation -- founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has undergone some uncomfortable grilling by U.S. lawmakers -- and spurred investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI.

Micro Focus Acknowledges Integration Of HPE Software Is Running One Year Behind Schedule

Micro Focus said this week that integration of the enterprise software business it acquired from Hewlett Packard Enterprise last year in an $8.8 billion deal is taking longer than expected and the delay will impact the company's sales for the rest of fiscal 2018.

"Due to initial challenges in the integration of the HPE Software assets, we believe that we are running approximately one year behind our original plan and, as communicated in March, we expect that on exiting the current financial year revenues will be substantially lower than anticipated at the time of the transaction," the company said Wednesday in a statement attributed to executive chairman Kevin Loosemore.

The statement was part of the company's financial results report for the first half of its fiscal 2018. The company reported that for the six months ended April 30 pro forma revenue at constant currency declined 8 percent year over year to $1.97 billion.

The company blamed the slow progress on "additional complexities" associated with the fact that the HPE Software acquisition was a "carveout" rather than an acquisition of a standalone business. That resulted in "significant integration issues" around merging company cultures, establishing a new go-to-market strategy and setting up new IT systems, Micro Focus said.

MasterCard Network Hit With System Outage

Consumers in parts of North America and Europe were unable to use their Mastercard cards for nearly two hours on Thursday.

DownDetector said the Mastercard network began having problems at 1:42 EDT Thursday, although Payments.com said a U.K. bank reported problems as early as 6:05 p.m. (1:05 EDT). Problems were reported in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as parts of Canada and mainland Europe, according to The Register website.

Shortly after 3:00, MasterCard tweeted: "We are aware there may have been some issues in processing a limited number of transactions earlier. The situation has been resolved and those transactions are now working as normal."

No word on what caused the outage or how many customers or transactions were affected.