On June 6, 2024, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he led a multistate coalition of eleven (11) state attorneys general in in submitting a comment letter (the “Comment Letter”) in response to the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (together the “Agencies”) request for information regarding consolidation in healthcare by private equity. On March 5, 2024, the Agencies issued a “Request for Information on Consolidation in Healthcare Markets,” on the same day the Agencies hosted a public workshop regarding the impact of private equity investment in the healthcare system. Continue Reading California Attorney General Advocates for Greater Antitrust Enforcement in Private Equity in Healthcare

The health care industry has been a particular focus of antitrust concern in recent years, including recent policy initiatives, private equity warnings, and enforcement actions from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The new Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion (HCMC), announced this month by the DOJ, is the latest example of antitrust scrutiny on the industry.Continue Reading New DOJ Health Care Task Force Portends Continued Aggressive Antitrust Enforcement

In 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF or Strike Force), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government—federal, state and local. The PCSF is a constellation of partnerships among the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, multiple U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Inspectors General for multiple federal agencies working together to crack down on unlawful anticompetitive activities in the public procurement process. As we have previously discussed,[i] the PCSF has been steadily growing its footprint and focus since its inception in November 2019. Now four years in, the Strike Force continues to add new partners at the Federal, State and global level, boasting of more than 30,000 government officials trained in detection and prosecution of procurement offenses. The Strike Force touts its growing ranks of trained eyes and ears on the ground anywhere government funds are spent. The PCSF is sending an increasingly aggressive enforcement message that should put those engaged with government contracts, federal funds, and procurement officials on high alert.Continue Reading Aggressive Procurement Collusion Enforcement Risk Remains High for 2024

On December 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (the “Agencies”) jointly issued Final Merger Guidelines, following a public comment period on the Proposed Merger Guidelines first issued in July. The Final Merger Guidelines update and replace the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and the rescinded 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines. The Final Merger Guidelines kept important components from the Proposed Merger Guidelines (e.g., lower thresholds rendering certain transactions presumptively illegal, focus on cumulative effects of multiple acquisitions, etc.). Among the most significant developments from prior iterations of the merger guidelines are the adoption of a market share threshold in determining when a transaction is presumed to be illegal, expansion of the concept of vertical mergers to include mergers involving “related” products or services, and formal espousal of the current Administration’s focus on the impact of mergers on labor.Continue Reading The Wait is Over: DOJ and FTC Issue Final Merger Guidelines

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release highlighting recent and forthcoming actions by the FTC, Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which they say will further promote competition, thereby lowering costs and increasing the quality of care in the U.S. health care market. In addition to highlighting recent actions by each of the agencies (e.g., the FTC’s proposed non-compete rule), the release states that the three agencies are entering into new partnerships to increase interagency cooperation and advance a “whole-of-government” approach to protect health care competition, including:Continue Reading FTC, DOJ, and HHS Announce Interagency Initiatives to Promote Healthcare Competition

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week the advent of a new safe harbor for companies that discover wrongdoing by the acquired business in the course of an M&A transaction. Buyers hoping to take advantage of this avenue for leniency would be well-advised to conduct thorough diligence and act quickly to report any wrongdoing they uncover, as the potential upsides for those who do so may be considerable in light of the DOJ’s new policy.Continue Reading DOJ Announces Mergers & Acquisitions Safe Harbor Policy

On June 27, 2023, the FTC and DOJ (together the “Agencies”) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing extensive revisions to both the rules that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (the “Act” or “HSR Act”) and the Premerger Notification and Report Form (the “Form”) that merging parties must submit under the Act. Our previous analysis of the NPRM is covered here.Continue Reading Mergers & Acquisitions Update: A Closer Look at the Impact of the FTC and DOJ’s Proposed HSR Act Filing Reform on Private Equity Firms

On September 21, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe (WCAS) and U.S. Anesthesia Partners, Inc. (USAP), in the Southern District of Texas, alleging the two companies “[e]xecuted a multi-year anticompetitive scheme to consolidate anesthesiology practices in Texas, drive up the price of anesthesia services provided to Texas patients, and boost their own profits.”Continue Reading FTC Sues Private Equity Firm and Anesthesiology Practice for Antitrust Violations

As generative AI becomes an increasingly integral part of the modern economy, antitrust and consumer protection agencies continue to raise concerns about the technology’s potential to promote unfair methods of competition. Federal Trade Commission (“the FTC”) Chair Lina Khan recently warned on national news that “AI could be used to turbocharge fraud and scams” and the FTC is watching to ensure large companies do not use AI to “squash competition.”[1] The FTC has recently written numerous blogs on the subject,[2] signaling its intent to “use [the FTC’s] full range of tools to identify and address unfair methods of competition” that generative AI may create.[3] Similarly, Jonathan Kanter, head of the Antitrust Division at Department of Justice (“the DOJ”), said that the current model of AI “is inherently dependent on scale” and may “present a greater risk of having deep moats and barriers to entry.”[4] Kanter recently added that “there are all sorts of different ways to deploy machine learning technologies, and how it’s deployed can be different in the healthcare space, the energy space, the consumer tech space, the enterprise tech space,” and antitrust enforcers shouldn’t be so intimidated by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that they stop enforcing the laws.[5]Continue Reading AI Under the Antitrust Microscope: Competition Enforcers Focusing on Generative AI from All Angles

On July 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice jointly published long-anticipated proposed merger guidelines (the “Proposed Merger Guidelines”), which had been expected since President Biden issued an Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy in the summer of 2021. According to the agencies, the Proposed Merger Guidelines “build upon, expand, and clarify” the prior guidance,[1] to keep up with “modern” market realities.[2] In contrast to the previous versions, the Proposed Merger Guidelines cover both horizontal and vertical mergers. They also cite case law for the first time.[3] Reflecting the Biden Administration’s views on federal antitrust merger enforcement, the Proposed Merger Guidelines substantially expand the types of competitive harm the agencies consider grounds for challenging a transaction under Section 7 of the Clayton Act (which prohibits mergers where the effect is “substantially to lessen competition” or “to tend to create a monopoly”).[4]Continue Reading A Big Deal: FTC and DOJ Issue Long-Awaited New Draft Merger Guidelines

It has been another busy year for the Department of Justice’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF). Formed in 2019, the Department of Justice created the PCSF, a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. The PCSF is a constellation of partnerships among the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, multiple U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Inspectors General for multiple federal agencies working together to crack down on unlawful anticompetitive activities in the public procurement process.Continue Reading Government Contracting Companies Beware: DOJ’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force is Global, Growing, and Going Strong