Competition Matters

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Diving into the data in the HSR Report

Today the FTC and DOJ released the Hart-Scott-Rodino Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2016. The Report is the 39th accounting of the agencies’ premerger notification program under the HSR Act, and it covers all premerger notification and merger enforcement activity initiated between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016. Here is a data-driven summary of the Report.

You can’t certify substantial compliance with just a “Partial Log”

In order to reduce the burden associated with submitting detailed information for every document withheld on a claim of privilege, the Bureau has established an optional two-step privilege log process. Rather than submitting a complete privilege log for all withheld documents and custodians, parties may opt to initially submit an abbreviated log of documents withheld on a claim of privilege. This is called a Partial Log.

Getting in Sync with HSR Timing Considerations

The Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) Act and Rules require that parties to certain mergers and acquisitions submit premerger notification filings and wait before consummating the transaction. Parties must often balance the HSR filing requirement with a number of other regulatory requirements, as well as any conditions to closing.

Economic Opportunity Across State Lines: Enhancing Occupational License Portability

Moving to a new state can be daunting—packing, finding a new place to live, looking into options for schools, and finding the best local pizzeria. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans who need a license in order to work, the biggest hurdle could be getting a license in your new state. And it’s likely to involve more than just paperwork and fees. Because licensing requirements often vary from state to state, you might have to take additional courses or obtain specialized on-the-job experience—even if you’ve been working in the same profession for years.

Turning up the volume on hearing care

Chirping birds, babbling brooks, soft rain showers, and children gleefully playing outdoors – these sounds of spring bring us joy, especially after a long winter. But for the millions of Americans who have hearing loss, full enjoyment of these and other everyday sounds can be out of reach. Others might benefit from listening assistance in certain situations, such as in a noisy restaurant or while watching TV. For too many, even participation in a simple conversation can be difficult.

Loveseats, lilies, and licensing: Economic liberty opens doors to opportunity

Should the government spend its time protecting consumers from ugly throw pillows or droopy floral arrangements? Should the government force an African hair-braiding expert to also study makeup application or nail art in order to work? Should a job-seeking military spouse be expected to comply with a whole new set of licensing requirements—and pay a hefty fee—every single time the family relocates to a different state?

HSR threshold adjustments and reportability for 2017

When Congress passed the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, it created minimum dollar thresholds to limit the burden of premerger reporting. In 2000, it amended the HSR statute to require the annual adjustment of these thresholds based on the change in gross national product. As a result, reportability under the Act changes from year to year as the statutory thresholds adjust. The PNO fields many questions about the upcoming adjustments to the HSR thresholds from parties whose transactions may take place around the time of the revisions.

Looking back (again) at FTC merger remedies

The newly released Remedy Study is the culmination of nearly two years of effort by FTC staff to look back at Commission merger orders from 2006 through 2012. We looked at 89 merger orders affecting 400 markets, with 79 divestitures to 121 buyers. We evaluated 50 of those orders using a case study method, interviewing nearly 200 businesses in a wide range of industries and collecting sales data from almost that many.

Have a plan to comply with the bar on horizontal interlocks

With some exceptions, Section 8 of the Clayton Act prohibits the same individual from serving as an officer or director of two competing corporations. Like other portions of the forward-looking Clayton Act (including Section 7 with its proscription on mergers that are likely to harm competition), Section 8 was designed to “nip in the bud incipient violations of the antitrust laws by removing the opportunity or temptation to such violations through interlocking directorates.” U.S. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 111 F. Supp. 614, 616 (S.D.N.Y. 1953).

A little piece of paper goes a long way to promote contact lens competition

More than 40 million U.S. consumers benefit from contact lens competition. Demand for contact lenses has been growing over the past decade, and there are more places for consumers to shop for contact lenses and refill their prescriptions – in-person from eye-care providers, optical chains, and wholesale clubs, and on-line as well. Innovation has improved the comfort and convenience of contact lenses, and many people have switched from one-year lenses to daily disposable lenses.

Taking a hard look at the asset package

On Monday, the FTC accepted for public comment a proposed consent order involving a consummated merger in the eye care industry. According to the complaint, Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ 2015 acquisition of Paragon Holdings reduced competition for polymer discs (aka buttons) used to make three types of rigid gas permeable (hard) contact lenses.

Competitive job markets offer more than just fringe benefits

Looking for a new job can be stressful, whether you are a new worker applying for your first job or a highly trained professional seeking to advance in your career. The last thing a job-seeker should have to worry about is a back-room deal among employers that keeps her from getting the job of her dreams or from being offered a fair salary.

LBOs and the size of transaction test

The Premerger Notification Office is often asked to give guidance on how to determine the value of a proposed merger or acquisition in light of the size of transaction test. The size of transaction test excludes transactions from the reporting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act if they are valued below the annually adjusted dollar threshold. The current size of transaction threshold is $78.2 million.

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