Dow Jones, Times Co. Sued by BanxCorp Over Interest-Rate Web Listings

BanxCorp, operator of the BanxQuote website, sued media companies including News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co. and New York Times Co., accusing them of forming a cartel to sell information on bank interest rates online.

BanxCorp yesterday added the companies, as well as AOL Inc., to a lawsuit filed on May 14 against Tree.com Inc.’s LendingTree LLC in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

The companies conspired with Bankrate Inc. to “gain an unfair advantage over the plaintiff” by fixing the prices that banks pay to have rates listed on websites, according to the complaint. BanxCorp, based in Scarsdale, New York, estimates damages at more than $500 million.

“The defendants through the cartel have made it virtually impossible for competing bank rate websites to remain in business or become newly established,” lawyers for BanxQuote said in the lawsuit.

Financial institutions pay to list their interest rates on websites run by BanxCorp and Bankrate, then consumers use the sites to find the most competitive rates for financial products such as certificates of deposit and mortgages. The media companies republish the data.

The other defendants named are General Electric Co.’s CNBC, Time Warner Inc.’s Cable News Network, Microsoft Corp.’s and GE’s MSNBC Interactive News LLC, News Corp.’s Fox News Network and Move Inc.

Jack Horner, a spokesman for News Corp., and Anne Eisele of GE, Alysia Lew of AOL and Julie Reynolds of Move.com said their companies had no comment. Diane McNulty of New York Times, Mona Marimow of LendingTree and Christa Robinson of CNN didn’t immediately return messages for comment.

BanxCorp also sued Bankrate in federal court in New Jersey. That suit is pending, BanxCorp Chief Executive Officer Norbert Mehl said in a telephone interview.

The case is BanxCorp v. LendingTree LLC, 10-02467, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

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