Last week, I spoke about a topic that has attracted a lot of popular interest in antitrust enforcement lately—vertical merger enforcement. We view vertical mergers as an important part of the FTC’s enforcement agenda. However, it is true that, relative to horizontal mergers, vertical mergers are a smaller part of the workload of the FTC and the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.
When Acting Chairman Ohlhausen launched the FTC’s Economic Liberty Task Force in early 2017 to shine a spotlight on occupational licensing, the goal was not only to advocate for needed reforms. She also wanted to give a voice to the millions of American workers and consumers – especially military families – whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by misguided policies.
When preparing an HSR filing for a proposed acquisition, some practitioners counsel their clients not to submit binding agreements or side letters negotiated between the merging parties that reflect the parties’ antitrust review obligations, risk-sharing commitments, and potential remedial measures. Some claim that these “side agreements” are ancillary to the main agreement, while others withhold such side agreements believing they are protected by a common interest privilege or as part of a joint defense agreement.
The staff of the Premerger Notification Office processes, reviews, and answers inquiries related to around two thousand transactions, involving roughly 4,000 HSR filings, each year. The number one priority of the PNO is to process incoming HSR filings in a timely fashion so Bureau of Competition and Antitrust Division litigation staff can review filings of interest and we can clear non-problematic transactions for closing as quickly as possible.
On Monday, November 27, 2017, the Premerger and Division Statistics Unit of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice is relocating to the Liberty Square Building at 450 Fifth Street, N.W.
As of November 27, 2017, all mail and overnight deliveries related to HSR filings should be addressed to:
Department of Justice
Premerger and Division Statistics Unit
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
If you’re a competition policy wonk (a title we both wear proudly), we probably don’t need to convince you to stop by or tune in to the FTC’s upcoming November 7 roundtable discussion to explore ongoing research about the effects of occupational licensing on competition, consumers, and the workforce. For the rest of you…please read on, and give us a chance to try.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This is National Consumer Protection Week, a week set aside every year to help consumers know their rights and make well-informed choices in the marketplace.
Yesterday, I spoke to a group of antitrust practitioners and those involved in healthcare policy at AAI’s Healthcare Roundtable, where I discussed past and present FTC work to promote competition in healthcare markets.
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.
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.
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).
It was another busy year for antitrust news. Here’s my look back at the top ten FTC-related antitrust developments for the year that was 2016 (in chronological order):