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FTC and DOJ Draft Vertical Merger Guidelines Provide Additional Transparency to Agency Practice

For the first time since the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) published non-horizontal merger guidelines in 1984, the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued updated Vertical Merger Guidelines to explain how the antitrust agencies analyze vertical mergers. The guidelines were published in draft on January 10, 2020, and are now open for a 30-day public comment period. WHAT HAPPENED: The DOJ and FTC released draft guidelines outlining the principal analytical techniques, practices and enforcement policies the antitrust agencies will use to analyze vertical mergers and acquisitions. Vertical mergers combine firms or assets that operate at different stages of the same supply chain. For example, vertical mergers or acquisitions could combine companies such as: a satellite maker and a payload provider; an automaker and an aluminum supplier; an automaker and an automotive retailer; a filmmaker and a cable television company; or a pharmaceutical...

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Antitrust M&A Snapshot | US Agencies Aggressive While the EC Publishes Report on Competition Policy for the Digital Era

The second quarter of 2019 proved to be a busy season for antitrust matters. In the United States, agencies continued to be aggressive and blocked transactions or required significant remedies. They cleared three mergers where divestitures were required; and in the face of FTC or DOJ opposition, companies abandoned several transactions, including between Republic National Distribution Company and Breakthru Beverage Group. Regarding vertical transactions, we continued to see a split between the FTC Republican and Democratic Commissioners regarding whether enforcement is required and the appropriate remedies. In the European Union, the EC published a report on competition policy for the digital era, which deals with, among other things, acquisitions of nascent competitors. The EC also closed two merger control proceedings subject to divestitures, blocked a proposed joint venture, and showed that it will seek large fines for companies violating EU competition...

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Antitrust M&A Snapshot | US Tackles Vertical Merger Enforcement Guidelines while the EC Blocks 2 Transactions

The first quarter of 2019 proved to be as active as ever for antitrust regulators in both the United States and Europe. In the United States, vertical merger enforcement was the focus of a few high-profile matters. The US DOJ has been working on an update to the Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines, possibly providing clarification for merging parties. Meanwhile in Europe, although the European Commission cleared a number of merger control proceedings with remedies, the European Commission also blocked two transactions during the first quarter of 2019. Access the full issue. Hélène de Cazotte, a trainee in the Firm's Brussels office, also contributed to this publication.

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THE LATEST: FTC Allows Problematic Vertical Merger to Proceed with a Behavioral Remedy

On January 28, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had accepted a proposed settlement with office supply distributors Staples and Essendant in connection with Staples’ proposed $482.7 million acquisition of Essendant. The settlement suggests that the FTC is currently more willing than the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to accept conduct remedies to resolve competitive issues raised by vertical mergers. WHAT HAPPENED: The FTC Commissioners voted 3-2 to accept a proposed settlement establishing a firewall to prevent Staples from receiving competitively sensitive customer information from Essendant. Staples is the largest reseller of office products in the US, and one of only two retail office supply superstores in the US. Essendant is one of only two nationwide office product wholesale distributors. In September 2018, Staples agreed to acquire Essendant. Staples competes with various resellers to sell office supplies to mid-sized companies....

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Aerospace & Defense Series: Behavioral Remedies Remain a Viable Solution for Vertical Mergers in the Defense Industry

The recent FTC decision in the Northrop Grumman / Orbital ATK matter has shed light on the agency’s vertical merger enforcement policy and outlined a path to antitrust merger clearance for the Aerospace and Defense industry. The FTC’s June 5 consent decree shows behavioral remedies remain a viable solution if the parties can prove both that the DoD would benefit from the transaction and that those benefits would be lost if the agency required a divestiture. Continue Reading.  

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ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting Highlight: “Antitrust & Health Care: Square Peg in a Round Hole?”

In this month’s American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, the program “Antitrust & Health Care: Square Peg in a Round Hole?” featured debate and discussion about antitrust law treatment of health care transactions and how that treatment might (or should) evolve (via regulation, legislation, or some combination of approaches), or conversely, whether the intersection of antitrust law and health care is more akin to a square peg meeting a round hole.  Moderated by Jim Donahue (Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General), the panel’s speakers included Robert Berenson, MD (The Urban Institute), Alexis Gilman (the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)), Melinda Hatton (American Hospital Association (AHA)) and Elinor Hoffmann (Office of the New York Attorney General (AG)). Horizontal Mergers The program first considered a hypothetical merger of specialty physician practices, where the acquiring practice has privileges at one of the...

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