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United Technologies/Raytheon Highlights Key Issues in Aerospace and Defense Industry Merger Review

The DOJ Antitrust Division’s recent challenge to the United Technologies/Raytheon merger highlights a few key considerations for antitrust reviews of aerospace and defense industry transactions. The case is a useful illustration of important principles applicable to this unique industry. Access Full Article

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Aerospace and Defense Series: DOJ and FTC Vertical Merger Guidelines Will Impact Government Contractors

Last month, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released updated Vertical Merger Guidelines in draft form. These guidelines provide a useful resource for aerospace and defense contractors involved in M&A transactions. Vertical competition issues frequently arise in this industry given the nature of the supply base and contracting and supply relationships between companies operating at different levels of the supply chain. This is the first time the antitrust agencies have released updated guidelines for analyzing vertical mergers since 1984. Although the agencies have updated the Horizontal Merger Guidelines several times since then (most recently in 2010), they have not provided similar updated guidance to businesses regarding vertical merger enforcement until now. The new guidelines summarize the practices, standards, and theories the agencies have used in evaluating vertical mergers for a number of...

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THE LATEST: Federal Judge Blocks Merger of Nuclear Waste Disposal Companies Rejecting “Failing Firm” Defense

On June 21, 2017, US District Judge Sue L. Robinson blocked EnergySolutions, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS), applying a strict standard for the “failing firm” defense to a merger challenge. The parties compete in the disposal of low level radioactive waste (LLRW). WCS had argued that it would be forced to exit the market due to heavy operating losses if the transaction were not approved. Judge Robinson’s recently released opinion provides insights into how aggressively a putative failing firm must shop its assets to third parties before it can qualify for the failing firm defense to an otherwise anticompetitive merger. WHAT HAPPENED: The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in November 2016 to enjoin the proposed acquisition of WCS by EnergySolutions, arguing that the merger would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the LLRW disposal industry. DOJ alleged that EnergySolutions and WCS are the only...

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US and EU Requirements for Pre-Merger Notification of an Acquisition of a Minority Shareholding Interest

In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC to divest its 23 percent interest in Unimark Remedies, Ltd. and its US marketing rights to a generic drug under manufacture by Unimark as a condition to allowing Hikma to complete its acquisition of Roxane Laboratories. The FTC was concerned that Hikma’s continued holding of a 23 percent interest in Unimark after consummation of its proposed acquisition of Roxane would create the incentive and ability for Hikma to eliminate future competition between Roxane and Hikma/Unimark in the sale of generic flecainide tablets (a drug used to treat abnormally fast heart rhythms) in the United States. The FTC’s divestiture requirement was unusual but not unprecedented. The Horizontal Merger Guidelines identify three theories of competitive harm associated with an acquisition or holding of a small but significant minority interest in a competitor. Minority ownership, and any associated rights,...

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FTC Clarifies “Failing Firm” Defense

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published an article that offers guidance on the “failing firm” or “flailing firm” defense often invoked in the hospital merger context.  The article, written by Debbie Feinstein and Alexis Gilman of the Bureau of Competition, clarifies the circumstances under which this defense is and is not available. At the outset, Feinstein and Gilman point out the basic requirements for establishing a failing firm defense, as set forth in § 11 of the Horizontal Merger guidelines: the company is unable to meet its obligations as they come due; the firm would not be able to reorganize successfully in bankruptcy; and it has made unsuccessful good-faith efforts to elicit reasonable alternative offers that would keep its assets in the relevant market and pose a less severe danger to competition than does the proposed merger. The article goes on to emphasize an additional nuance required for the defense—that the acquiring...

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