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 The Final Merger Guidelines update and replace the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and the rescinded 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines.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

On November 21, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“the FTC”) announced its approval of an omnibus resolution authorizing the use of compulsory process for nonpublic investigations concerning products or services that use artificial intelligence (“AI”). Compulsory process refers to information or document requests, such as subpoenas or civil investigative demands, for which compliance is enforceable by courts. Recipients who fail to comply with compulsory process may face contempt charges.Continue Reading AI Enforcement Update: FTC Authorizes Compulsory Process for AI Investigations

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

On August 16, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“the FTC”) marked its first enforcement action of the prohibitions on interlocking directorates under Section 8 of the Clayton Act in over 40 years. Section 8 prohibits an officer or director of one firm from simultaneously serving as an officer or director of a competing firm under most circumstances.[1] The FTC accepted for public comment a consent order conditioning the 5.2 billion dollar cash‑and-stock deal between two rival natural gas producers on preventing “entanglements between the two companies and the exchange of confidential, competitively sensitive information.” Under the consent order, Quantum Energy Partners (“Quantum”) representatives may not serve on EQT Corporation’s (“EQT”) Board of Directors and must divest its EQT shares. The consent order also unwinds a pre-existing joint venture between the two entities and imposes additional restraints to protect competition.Continue Reading Antitrust Enforcement Agencies Continue to Target Interlocking Directorate Arrangements

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

The FTC announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”)[1] 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. The NPRM would also implement the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022. Continue Reading Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: FTC Proposes to Redesign and Dramatically Expand the Scope of the HSR Act Filing Process

On June 2nd, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“the FTC”) announced modifications to its in-house adjudicative proceedings. Under these new rules, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) presiding over an administrative hearing can only issue “recommended” decisions that are reviewed automatically by the FTC Commissioners (the “Commission”). The Commission, during their now-automatic review, may affirm the recommended decision in full or reject the decision, in whole or in part, and issue its own decision adopting different findings of fact or conclusions of law. Before the Commission acts on an ALJ’s recommended decision, it must provide the parties with an opportunity to submit a brief that states any exceptions to the decision.Continue Reading FTC Modifies Role of Administrative Judges Amid Heightened Agency Scrutiny

The Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) continue to carry out the Biden Administration’s stated mission to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement to “Promote Competition in the American Economy.”Continue Reading Restrictive Covenants in Real Estate: Next Antitrust Enforcement Target?

On April 14, 2023, in a decision involving appeals regarding two separate agency enforcement actions, the Supreme Court unanimously held that respondents in such actions may raise certain constitutional challenges outside of the administrative proceedings. Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission.Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That Respondents in Agency Enforcement Actions May Raise Constitutional Challenges Outside of Administrative Proceedings