Crafting effective merger remedies is one of the Commission’s most important tasks. Done well, a divestiture prevents the competitive harm likely to result from a proposed merger and ensures that competition remains as robust as it was premerger.
Last week, Bureau of Competition staff published a report on filings received in fiscal year (FY) 2016 under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), the thirteenth such report since the MMA took effect in 2004.
The great majority of attorneys appearing before the Commission share a sense of practicing at the height of our profession.? They engage with Commission staff on pressing issues of fact, antitrust law and economic theory in matters of great importance to consumers and our economy.? For a few, however, there may be perceived opportunities to seek an advantage in the debate through misrepresentation of key facts.? For those few, we want to remind practitioners that attorneys appearing in an investigation or administrative proceeding owe a duty of candor and professionalism to the Commission
On May 1, the Federal Trade Commission registered for the International Competition Network’s Framework for Competition Agency Procedures (CAP), making it a founding member of the ICN’s most recent initiative to promote fair and informed competition enforcement procedures around the world.
In written submissions to the Bureau or the Commission, be brief, be direct, and avoid repeating points made in previous papers. Wherever possible, multiple aligned parties should prepare joint submissions. ?Submit any written materials well in advance of a meeting—not less than three days beforehand—so the Bureau and the Commission have time to receive input from staff and consider your arguments.
(Note: The first draft of this post was three paragraphs long.)
Designing effective merger remedy orders is one of the Commission’s most important tasks. An effective merger remedy prevents the merger from causing harm.
Commission orders – both from negotiated settlements and from litigated matters – routinely require Respondents to submit periodic reports on their efforts to comply with the order. (See also Commission Rule 2.41(a)).? Ensuring compliance with Commission orders designed to remedy prior violations of antitrust law, and to prevent future recurrence, is a critical part of the FTC’s enforcement mission.
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 FTC’s ability to obtain information through subpoenas and civil investigative demands (CIDs) is critical to the task of investigating potential law violations. The FTC uses this authority deliberately and responsibly, avoiding unnecessary burdens on businesses and individuals and consistent with our obligations to enforce the law.
The PNO routinely provides informal guidance on Hart-Scott-Rodino reporting obligations that arise when combining not-for-profit entities, typically in the context of hospital combinations. In the past, much of this guidance focused on whether the combination resulted in a change of "control" of the board of directors of one or more of the combining entities. This was because those seeking guidance described hospital combinations primarily in terms of formal board governance.
Lawyers who have been paying attention to such things might recall the predicted fallout from the decision in Akzo Chemicals Ltd v. European Commission, Case C-550/07-P (September 14, 2010). In Akzo, the ECJ held that internal communications between in-house counsel and their companies’ employees are not privileged in European competition law cases.
This week, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first FTC regional office. According to the Commission’s 1918 Annual Report, the FTC first established three branch offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in order to handle the agency’s growing workload.
Last month, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the FTC’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, halting Wilhelmsen’s proposed acquisition of Drew Marine following a 10-day hearing.
Longfellow said “It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.” We agree, especially when it comes to designing effective merger remedies—ones that maintain competition at pre-merger levels so that the merger does not lead to higher prices, lower quality, or reduced innovation. From the perspective of the Bureau of Competition and the Commission, getting it right takes time.
The Bureau of Competition has undertaken several initiatives to streamline our merger review process in order to reach swifter resolutions—whether that be clearance, a negotiated settlement, or a lawsuit. As part of these efforts, we are announcing a new Model Timing Agreement for the Bureau’s merger reviews.
July is Military Consumer Month, so it’s the perfect time to consider the unique challenges of America’s military members and their families. Among the many sacrifices made by military families are frequent relocations, typically every 2 or 3 years. Moving to a new duty station often means that the member’s spouse must find a new job in a new state. For spouses who need a state-issued license to work, each move can involve paperwork, fees, and delays in order to obtain a new license.
More than ten years ago, the FTC and the Department of Justice published a joint report outlining some concerns about impediments to competition in the residential real estate industry.
If your HSR compliance program tracks only those acquisitions that require a payment, you may miss a variety of reportable acquisitions, leading to liability and fines for failures to file. In most situations, you have to file notification under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act before you pay to purchase voting securities, assets, or certain non-corporate interests. As a result, many HSR compliance programs kick in when someone has to write a check. Below we flag some examples of situations in which you may need to file – a compliance program that won’t catch these isn’t doing its job.
Most antitrust practitioners are attuned to advising clients about the antitrust risk that a proposed acquisition may violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. But counsel and clients must also be conscious of the risks of sharing information with a competitor before and during merger negotiations—a concern that remains until the merger closes.