FTC Issues 2006 Report to Congress on Ethanol Market Concentration; Commission Approves Filing of Amended Complaint in National Support Services Matter; FTC Approves Final Consent Order in Thermo/Fisher Scientific Matter

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Issuance of Commission report: The Commission has issued a study entitled “2006 Report on Ethanol Market Concentration” that examines the current state of ethanol production in the United States and measures market concentration using capacity and production data. The study, which is the second in a series of annual reports, concludes that U.S. ethanol production currently is not highly concentrated. On the assumption that U.S. fuel ethanol is a relevant market, the report concludes that market concentration – when measured on the basis of production capacity – has decreased over the past year by between 21 and 35 percent.

The study also examines the possible effect on concentration of agreements between ethanol producers and marketers. By attributing producers’ market shares to marketers when producers use third-party marketers to sell their ethanol downstream, the staff was able to derive alternative estimates of market concentration. The staff also was able to estimate market concentration using both capacity and production data, finding that production-based market concentration figures typically are higher than capacity-based figures. The study concludes that the level of concentration in ethanol production would not justify a presumption that a single firm, or a small group of firms, could wield sufficient market power to set or coordinate price or output levels. According to the staff, however, the results cannot preclude the possibility that future mergers within the industry may raise competitive concerns.

The study, which is available now on the Commission’s Web site and as a link to this press release, was submitted to Congress and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as required by Section 1501(a)(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as codified at 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(10). The Commission vote to issue the study, which was prepared by the staff of the Bureaus of Competition and Economics, was 5-0. (FTC File No. P063000; the staff contact is John H. Seesel, Associate General Counsel for Energy, Office of the General Counsel, 202-326-2702.)

Commission authorization of the staff to file amended complaint: The FTC has authorized the staff to file an amended complaint in the matter currently pending against National Support Services, LLC, Dennis Connelly, and other defendants. The original complaint, filed in September 2006, charged the defendants with engaging in deceptive and unfair practices related to their debt-negotiation program offers to consumers. The amended complaint adds two new parties to the case: Financial Liberty Services, LLC, and Robina Capital, Inc.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the amended complaint was 5-0. A copy can be found on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. (FTC File No.X060052, Civ. No. SACV-06-701 DOC (RNBx); the staff contact is Jennifer Larabee, FTC Western Region, Los Angeles, 310-824-4343; see press release dated September 21, 2006.)

Commission approval of final consent order: Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved the issuance of final consent order in the matter concerning Thermo Electron’s acquisition of Fisher Scientific. The vote to approve the final consent order, copies of which can be found on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release, was 5-0. (FTC File No. 061-0187, Docket No. C-4170; the staff contact is Richard H. Cunningham, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2214; see press release dated October 17, 2006.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Contact Information

Media Contact:
FTC Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180