On December 18, 2023, the DOJ and FTC jointly released the final 2023 Merger Guidelines that describe how the agencies will evaluate proposed merger and acquisition transactions.  Despite significant editing, and calls from industry to moderate the guidelines, the agencies essentially doubled down on their vision, which we have previously described, promising a more aggressive review of future transactions while providing limited concrete guidance for merging companies.

Changes From Draft Guidelines

We summarize some of the changes made between the draft guidelines and the final version.  None of these, though, are major revisions.  Beyond what is highlighted here, most of the revisions are wordsmithing and the addition of more contemporary case citations, perhaps in response to criticism that the case law cited was all very old.

  • Multimarket Contact Theory.  The agencies have inserted into Guideline 3 an additional example of a situation that may give rise to an anticompetitive alignment of incentives that can be a secondary factor to support a finding of coordinated effects.  Guideline 3 now states that if a merger results in a situation in which the merged firm competes with another firm in multiple markets (“multi-market contact”), firms might have an incentive to compete less aggressively in some markets in anticipation of reciprocity by rivals in other markets.
  • Weakened Threshold for Foreclosure in Vertical Mergers.  Draft Guidelines 5 and 6 have been combined into new Guideline 5, which focuses on vertical merger issues. The agencies removed the bright-line presumption of illegality where one merging party has a 50% share of a “related market” into which the merging counterparty sells or buys.  Instead, the text states that the presumption may be found if the merged firm is approaching or has monopoly power over the related product, and the related products is competitively sensitive.  And the 50% share figure resurfaces in footnote 30, albeit with slightly weaker language stating that the agencies “will generally infer” a violation if the 50% threshold is crossed.

Continue Reading DOJ and FTC Finalize Merger Guidelines

Yesterday (July 19, 2023), the DOJ Antitrust Division and the FTC released the long-anticipated proposed Merger Guidelines. As has also been long-anticipated, the proposed Guidelines reflect a much-stiffened enforcement philosophy. Throughout the text, the proposed Guidelines provide citations to Supreme Court cases from the 1960s and 1970s (and some even older) that will send

On January 23, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced updated size-of-transaction thresholds for premerger notification (Hart-Scott-Rodino or “HSR”) filings, as well as new HSR filing fees and new de minimis thresholds for interlocking officer and director prohibitions under Section 8 of the Clayton Act.

The HSR filing thresholds, which are revised annually based on

On October 31, 2022, Judge Florence Pan, now on the D.C. Circuit but sitting by designation in the District Court of the District of Columbia, delivered a “treat” to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a “trick” to Penguin Random House by blocking its $2.18 billion purchase of rival publisher Simon & Schuster.  The opinion, which was released on November 7, 2022, represents a comprehensive endorsement of the DOJ’s monopsony theory of the case and a complete rejection of the defendants’ counterarguments.  After a string of defeats, the case marks the first win for the DOJ under the Biden administration in a litigated merger challenge.Continue Reading DOJ Blocks the Penguin/Simon & Schuster Deal:  A Signature Antitrust Win for the Biden Administration

On January 18, 2022, Lina Khan, the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Jonathan Kanter, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), held a joint press conference to announce that the agencies would be requesting comments on considerations for new horizontal and vertical merger

The US Department of Justice announced last month that it is requesting public comment on an updated draft policy statement on standards-essential patents (SEP). The December 6, 2021 draft statement was issued pursuant to the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy on July 9, 2021. The draft statement seeks to modify a

Gun-jumping can occur when parties fail to fulfil the two obligations laid down by the European Merger Regulation No 139/2004 (EUMR). Article 4(1) of the EUMR sets out the obligation to notify the European Commission (Commission) of a concentration with an EU dimension before implementation. Article 7(1) sets out the obligation to stand still until the Commission declares such a concentration compatible with the internal market.

But would it be possible for parties to breach both obligations concurrently regarding the same transaction and thus to be fined doubly? The General Court answered in the affirmative in one of the most anticipated anti-gun-jumping cases.Continue Reading Gun Jumping: The General Court’s Ruling

The Biden administration has made promoting competition a top priority, as reflected in President Biden’s July executive order on competition. (For a complete description of the executive order and developments in its implementation, please visit Steptoe’s Executive Order on Competition Tracker). This priority is reflected in appointments that President Biden has made to the