The Federal Trade Commission authorized staff of the Bureau of Competition to file suit to enjoin Edgewell Personal Care Company’s proposed $1.37 billion acquisition of its key competitor, Harry’s, Inc. The Commission’s complaint alleged that the proposed combination would eliminate one of the most important competitive forces in the shaving industry. The loss of Harry’s as an independent competitor would have removed a critical disruptive rival that has driven down prices and spurred innovation in an industry that was previously dominated by two main suppliers, one of whom is the acquirer. On Feb. 10, 2020, the FTC issued a statement on the parties’ announcement that they had abandoned the acquisition.
In some situations the FTC files a complaint under its administrative process instead of taking the case to a federal court. This is called an adjudicative proceeding. The party can decide to settle with us or they can contest the charges. If they contest the case it is heard before an administrative law judge in a trial-type proceeding. The Legal Library has information about cases brought by us before an administrative law judge.
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an action to block Illumina Inc.’s proposed $1.2 billion acquisition of Pacific Biosciences of California, alleging in an administrative complaint that Illumina is seeking to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in the U.S. market for next-generation DNA sequencing systems by extinguishing PacBio as a nascent competitive threat. The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to authorize staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was 5-0. On Jan. 2, 2020, the parties abandoned the transaction.
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an action to block Post Holdings, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of the private label ready-to-eat ("RTE") cereal business of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. In an administrative complaint issued on December 19, 2019, the Commission alleges that the proposed acquisition would harm retailers and end consumers by eliminating head-to-head competition between the Respondents in the United States market for private label RTE cereal. The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to authorize staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was 5-0. The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on May 27, 2020. The parties announced they had abandoned the transaction on Jan. 13, 2020.
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint against data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, and filed settlements for public comment with Cambridge Analytica’s former chief executive and an app developer who worked with the company, alleging they employed deceptive tactics to harvest personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint challenging the merger of two prosthetics manufacturers that are top sellers of prosthetic knees equipped with microprocessors. According to the FTC’s complaint, Otto Bock’s consummated acquisition of FIH Group Holdings (owner of Freedom Innovations) harmed competition in the U.S. market for microprocessor prosthetic knees by eliminating head-to-head competition between the two companies, removing a significant and disruptive competitor, and entrenching Otto Bock’s position as the dominant supplier. Microprocessor knees, which use microprocessors to adjust the stiffness and positioning of the joint in response to variations in walking rhythm and ground conditions, provide a stable platform for amputees. Compared to other products, microprocessor prosthetic knees reduce the risk of falling, cause less pain, and promote the health and function of the sound limb. In addition to issuing an administrative complaint, the Commission authorized agency staff to seek a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and ancillary relief in federal court, should doing so be necessary to ensure the Freedom Innovations business remains viable and to preserve the Commission ability to order effective relief. On Dec. 1, 2020, the Commission announced approval for the divestiture of the Freedom assets.
The FTC filed an administrative complaint charging that 1-800 Contacts, the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the United States, unlawfully orchestrated a web of anticompetitive agreements with rival online contact lens sellers that suppress competition in certain online search advertising auctions and that restrict truthful and non-misleading internet advertising to consumers. According to the administrative complaint, 1-800 Contacts entered into bidding agreements with at least 14 competing online contact lens retailers that eliminate competition in auctions to place advertisements on the search results page generated by online search engines such as Google and Bing. The complaint alleges that these bidding agreements unreasonably restrain price competition in internet search auctions, and restrict truthful and non-misleading advertising to consumers, constituting an unfair method of competition in violation of federal law.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint charging that Fidelity National Financial’s proposed $1.2 billion acquisition of Stewart Information Services would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition for title insurance underwriting for large commercial transactions in 45 states and the District of Columbia, and for title information services in 14 local markets. The FTC alleges that if consummated, the merger would reduce an industry dominated by “the Big 4” players to the Big 3. Post-merger, Fidelity would control more than 43 percent of all title insurance sales nationwide, and over 40 percent of sales for large commercial transactions in most state-level markets. The FTC also authorized staff to seek in federal court a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the parties from consummating the merger, and to maintain the status quo pending the administrative proceeding. On Sept. 10, 2019, the parties abandoned the transaction.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint and authorized a federal court action to block Sanford Health's proposed acquisition of Mid Dakota Clinic, alleging that the deal would vioated antitrust law by significantly reducing competition for adult primary care physician services, pediatric services, obstetrics and gynecology services, and general surgery physician services in the greater Bismarck and Mandan metropolitan area. The FTC, jointly with the Office of the Attorney General of North Dakota, filed a complaint in federal district court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal and maintain the status quo pending an administrative trial on the merits. According to the complaint, Sanford and Mid Dakota are each other's closest rivals in the four-county Bismarck-Mandan region of North Dakota, and the merger would create a group of physicians with at least 75 to 85 percent share in the provision of adult primary care physician services, pediatric services, obstetrics and gynecology services. On July 9, 2019, after Sanford abandoned its acquisition of Mid Dakota Clinic, the Commission announced that it voted 5-0 to dismiss the case.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint (and authorized staff to seek a TRO and PI which have not been filed) challenging the merger of two top suppliers of chloride process titanium dioxide (TiO2), a white pigment used in a wide variety of products including paint, industrial coatings, plastic, and paper. The FTC’s administrative complaint charges that Tronox Limited’s proposed acquisition of competitor Cristal, for $1.67 billion and a 24 percent stake in the combined entity, would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition in the North American market (comprised of the United States and Canada) for chloride process titanium dioxide. The FTC alleges that the acquisition, if consummated, would increase the risk of coordinated action among the remaining competitors, and increase the risk of future anticompetitive output reductions by Tronox.
Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V., Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, and Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., In the Matter of
In an administrative complaint issued on October 25, 2001, the Commission challenged the February 2001 purchase of the Water Division and Engineered Construction Division of Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. alleging that the consummated merger significantly reduced competition in four separate markets involving the design and construction of various types of field-erected specialty industrial storage tanks in the United States. On June 27, 2003, an administrative law judge upheld the complaint and ordered the divestiture all of the assets acquired in the acquisition. In December 2004, the Commission approved an interim consent order prohibiting Chicago Bridge & Iron from altering the assets acquired from Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. except “in the ordinary course of business.” These assets included but were not limited to real property; personal property; equipment; inventories; and intellectual property. On January 7, 2005 the Commission upheld in part the ruling of an administrative law judge that Chicago Bridge & Iron’s acquisition of the Water Division and the Engineered Construction Division of Pitt-Des Moines, Inc. created a near-monopoly in four separate markets involving the design and construction of various types of field-erected specialty industrial storage tanks in the United States. In an effort to restore competition as it existed prior to the merger, the Commission ordered Chicago Bridge to reorganize the relevant product business into two separate, stand-alone, viable entities capable of competing in the markets described in the complaint and to divest one of those entities within six months. On January 25, 2008 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the Commission's order. In November 2008, the Commission approved divestiture of the assets to Matrix Service Company.
The FTC charged that Boral Ltd. and LaFarge SA violated antitrust laws by establishing a joint venture, Monier Lifetile LLC, that combined their concrete roofing tile (CRT) manufacturing divisions. Boral and LaFarge are the two largest producers of CRT in the United States. To settle FTC charges that the joint venture would likely substantially reduce competition in the market for CRT, Monier Lifetile LLC agreed to sell production facilities in Arizona, California and Florida to CRH PLC.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint charging that Wilhelmsen Maritime Services’ proposed $400 million acquisition of Drew Marine Group would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition in an important market for marine water treatment chemicals and services used by global fleets. Marine water treatment chemicals and services are used by tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, cruise ships, and military support vessels to maintain critical on-board equipment. The FTC alleges that if consummated, the merger would result in a company controlling at least 60 percent of the global marine water treatment chemical and service market, leaving only inferior alternatives for global fleets. The FTC also authorized staff to seek in federal court a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the parties from consummating the merger, and to maintain the status quo pending the administrative proceeding.
The FTC challenged ProMedica Health System, Inc.’s consummated acquisition of rival St. Luke’s Hospital in Lucas County, Ohio. The FTC’s administrative complaint alleged that the deal will reduce competition and allow ProMedica to raise prices for general acute-care and inpatient obstetrical services. The FTC staff also filed a separate complaint in federal district court seeking an order requiring ProMedica to preserve St. Luke’s as a separate, independent competitor during the FTC’s administrative proceeding. The action in federal district court was brought jointly with the Attorney General of the State of Ohio. The PI hearing was held on February 10 and 11, 2011. The District Court granted the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction. With an Initial Decision issued on 1/05/2012, the Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell ruled that ProMedica Health System, Inc.'s consummated acquisition of rival St. Luke's Hospital harmed competition in violation of U.S. antitrust law and would allow ProMedica to raise the prices of general acute care inpatient hospital services in Lucas County, Ohio (the Toledo area). Judge Chappell ordered ProMedica to divest St. Luke's Hospital to an FTC-approved buyer within 180 days after the order becomes final. On 3/28/2012, The FTC issued its Opinion and Final Order in a 4-0 decision, ordering ProMedica to divest St. Luke's Hospital to an FTC-approved buyer within six months after the Commission order becomes final. ProMedica appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the Commission's order.
The FTC authorized legal action to block the merger of the two largest daily fantasy sports sites, DraftKings and FanDuel, alleging that the combined firm would control more than 90 percent of the U.S. market for paid daily fantasy sports contests. The FTC, jointly with the Offices of the Attorneys General in the State of California and the District of Columbia, filed a complaint in federal district court seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the deal and to maintain the status quo pending an administrative trial. The Commission also issued an administrative complaint alleging that the proposed merger violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act by creating a single provider with by far the largest share of the market for paid daily fantasy sports contests in the United States.
On July 13, 2017, the parties abandoned the transaction, and the Commission dismissed the administrative complaint.
Advocate Health Care Network, Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation, NorthShore University HealthSystem, In the Matter of
The FTC issued an administrative complaint alleging that the proposed merger of Advocate Health Care Network and NorthShore University HealthSystem will create the largest hospital system in the North Shore area of Chicago. According to the complaint, the combined entity would operate a majority of the hospitals in the area and control more than 50 percent of the general acute care inpatient hospital services. The Commission also authorized staff to file for a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo pending the administrative trial.
In the federal court proceeding, the district court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction on June 20, 2016, but granted plaintiffs' motion for a stay pending appeal. On October 31, 2016, the Seventh Circuit reversed, and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. On March 7, 2017, the district court granted an injunction, and the parties abandoned their merger plans. On March 20, 2017, the Commission dismissed the administrative complaint.