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Federal Trade Commission Zeroes in on Problematic Non-Competes

Non-compete provisions help protect a buyer’s significant investment in an acquired business. Although non-compete clauses often play a vital role in M&A deals, they are not immune from antitrust scrutiny. Since September 2019, the FTC has challenged noncompete provisions in at least three transactions. These demonstrate that the Commission and other antitrust enforcers are closely scrutinising non-competes and will not hesitate to challenge problematic provisions, even when the underlying transaction raises no substantive antitrust issues or when the provision relates to minority investments. Parties to a commercial transaction can easily manage this scrutiny by tailoring the scope. Click here to read the full article in our latest International News.

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Antitrust Enforcement Update: Spotlight on Physician Transactions

At both the state and federal level, antitrust enforcement agencies continue to pursue successful challenges to physician practice transactions. This article summarizes two recent enforcement actions, as well as a new state law that requires prior notice of healthcare provider transactions. We also offer practical takeaways for providers pursuing practice acquisitions. Access the full article.

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THE LATEST: Antitrust Remains in Political Crosshairs for 2018 Midterm Elections

WHAT HAPPENED: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gave a speech at the Open Markets Institute on December 6 entitled “Three Ways to Remake the American Economy for All”, in which she repeatedly positioned antitrust policy as a tool to rebalance competition between “big, powerful corporations” and “just about everyone else.” Senator Warren spoke critically about recent antitrust enforcement and advocated three steps for improving antitrust enforcement: (1) block mergers that choke-off competition; (2) crack down on anticompetitive conduct; and (3) get all government agencies to defend competition. On mergers, Senator Warren asserted that “settlement agreements that allowed bad mergers if the companies promised to take actions” have not worked out because “those expertly crafted provisions have been epic failures” and that “[s]tudies show that those settlement conditions often fail to bring about the cost savings and other benefits giant corporations promised.”...

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THE LATEST: DOJ Antitrust Chief Casts Doubt on Using “Behavioral Remedies” to Fix Problematic “Vertical” Mergers

WHAT HAPPENED: On Thursday, November 16, 2017, newly confirmed Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim, speaking at the American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law’s Fall Forum, explained where antitrust enforcement fits in the broader Trump administration effort to reduce federal regulations. Delrahim remarked that “antitrust is law enforcement, it’s not regulation.” Antitrust enforcement “supports reducing regulation, by encouraging competitive markets that, as a result, require less government intervention.” Delrahim explained that “[v]igorous antitrust enforcement plays an important role in building a less regulated economy in which innovation and business can thrive, and ultimately the American consumer can benefit.” As a result, the government can minimize regulation related to price, quality, and investment. Delrahim announced that the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) would seek to reduce the number of...

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Antitrust M&A Snapshot: April – June 2017 Update

McDermott’s Antitrust M&A Snapshot is a resource for in-house counsel and others who deal with antitrust M&A issues but are not faced with these issues on a daily basis. In each quarterly issue, we will provide concise summaries of Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ) and European Commission (EC) news and events related to M&A, including significant ongoing investigations, trials and consent orders, as well as analysis on the trends we see developing in the antitrust review process. Read the full report here.

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Antitrust M&A Snapshot: October – December 2016 Update

McDermott’s Antitrust M&A Snapshot is a resource for in-house counsel and others who deal with antitrust M&A issues but are not faced with these issues on a daily basis. In each quarterly issue, we will provide concise summaries of Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ) and European Commission (EC) news and events related to M&A, including significant ongoing investigations, trials and consent orders, as well as analysis on the trends we see developing in the antitrust review process. Read the full report here.  

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Antitrust M&A Snapshot: July – September 2016 Update

UNITED STATES: Continuing an active first half of 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) have challenged several large mergers and acquisitions. In fact, trials for the two national health insurer deals are slated to begin Q4 of 2016 in Washington, DC, where the agencies have had success in obtaining preliminary injunctions this year. Adding to the regulators’ successes in Q3 was a victory for the FTC on appeal in the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/PinnacleHealth System transaction, in which the Third Circuit overturned the district court’s formulation of the geographic market. Indeed, with another appeal in a hospital merger outstanding in the Seventh Circuit, Health Care M&A is an active sector to monitor. In addition to the agencies’ operations, the upcoming US presidential election has also propelled antitrust policy into a national discussion. For the first time in a few decades, antitrust has appeared on the...

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Top Antitrust Enforcers Respond to Congressional Questioning

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Assistant Attorney General William Baer testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on May 15, 2015. The oversight hearing provided an opportunity for the heads of the U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies to survey their agencies’ priorities and recent achievements. The two agency heads also faced congressional questions on a variety of topics ranging from proposed reforms to the FTC’s merger review process to the alleged unfair targeting of foreign firms by Chinese antitrust authorities. In her prepared testimony, Chairwoman Ramirez reviewed her agency’s recent activity, emphasizing especially recent U.S. Supreme Court and appellate court victories. She reiterated the agency’s strategic focus on core areas of concern, including health care, where the agency continues to review health care provider and pharmaceutical industry...

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Antitrust Enforcers Discuss Recent Highlights, Ongoing Cases, Enforcement Priorities and General Trends at the 2015 ABA Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting

The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting concluded earlier this month with the traditional “Enforcers’ Roundtable,” an interview with leading competition authorities about recent highlights, ongoing cases, enforcement priorities and general trends. This year’s participants were Bill Baer, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust; Edith Ramirez, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman; Kathleen Foote, Chair of the Multistate Antitrust Task Force of the National Association of Attorneys General; Margrethe Vestager, E.U. Commissioner for Competition; and Lord David Currie, Chairman of the one-year old UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Below is a summary of certain highlights from the discussion. Recent Domestic Achievements and Enforcement Priorities Ramirez touted the FTC’s recent U.S. Supreme Court victory in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners[1], in which the court held that a state licensing board was...

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Top Antitrust Watchdog to Merging Firms: DOJ Not Interested in Remedies that Require Ongoing Regulatory Oversight

Head U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust enforcer, Bill Baer, believes the Federal Trade Commission and DOJ are law enforcement agencies, not regulators.  In his recent speech at the Global Competition Review Fourth Annual Antitrust Leaders Forum, Baer stressed that antitrust regulation “is not what we do.  And it is not how we ought to think about what we do.”  He added that the antitrust agencies “do not aspire to be regulators or to pick winners and losers.  Instead antitrust enforcement, done right, focuses on removing impediments to competitive markets and protecting market structures that facilitate competition.”  Baer’s enforcement-minded approach likely explains one reason why the federal antitrust agencies do not typically accept conduct remedies to resolve antitrust concerns.  Conduct remedies require an entity to take, or refrain from, certain business conduct (e.g., price maintenance commitments).  The federal antitrust agencies disfavor...

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