McCormick & Company, Inc. has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to end the company's obligation, until 2003, to obtain FTC approval before acquiring any interest in, or assets of, a company that has sold more than 2.5 million pounds of dehydrated-onion products during the prior 12 months.
McCormick, based in Sparks, Maryland, submitted its petition in accordance with the FTC's recent policy announcement with regard to prior approval provisions in competition orders. Under that policy, the FTC said that, with certain exceptions, it no longer will routinely include prior approval provisions in orders stemming from merger cases, and that it presumes the public interest requires reopening such provisions in outstanding merger orders and making them consistent with the policy.
The petition will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until Dec. 18.
The prior approval provision is included in a 1993 consent order McCormick signed to settle FTC charges over the company's agreement with McCormick & Company, Inc., settling charges that its acquisition of Haas Foods, Inc. violated the antitrust laws. The FTC had alleged that McCormick and Haas were competitors in the U.S. dehydrated-onion business, and that the acquisition would substantially decrease competition in that market. The consent order required McCormick to divest a seed bank in order to help establish a new competitor in the dehydrated-onion business to remedy the lessening of competition allegedly created by the acquisition. As an alternative to setting aside the prior approval provision also included in the order, McCormick's petition requests replacing it with a prior notification requirement that would apply to the same transactions as those covered by the current prior approval requirement.
Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
Copies of the petition, the 1993 consent order and other documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Docket No. C-3468)