Home Health Law A Large Deal: FTC and DOJ Subject Lengthy-Awaited New Draft Merger Tips

A Large Deal: FTC and DOJ Subject Lengthy-Awaited New Draft Merger Tips

A Large Deal: FTC and DOJ Subject Lengthy-Awaited New Draft Merger Tips


On July 19, 2023, the Federal Commerce Fee and Division of Justice collectively revealed long-anticipated proposed merger pointers (the “Proposed Merger Tips”), which had been anticipated since President Biden issued an Govt Order Selling Competitors within the American Economic system in the summertime of 2021. In keeping with the businesses, the Proposed Merger Tips “construct upon, develop, and make clear” the prior steering,[1] to maintain up with “trendy” market realities.[2] In distinction to the earlier variations, the Proposed Merger Tips cowl each horizontal and vertical mergers. Additionally they cite case legislation for the primary time.[3] Reflecting the Biden Administration’s views on federal antitrust merger enforcement, the Proposed Merger Tips considerably develop the kinds of aggressive hurt the businesses think about grounds for difficult a transaction below Part 7 of the Clayton Act (which prohibits mergers the place the impact is “considerably to minimize competitors” or “to are inclined to create a monopoly”).[4]

Public touch upon the Proposed Merger Tips is open till at the least September 18, 2023. Even when adopted, they won’t have the drive or impact of legislation and certain will probably be topic to litigation and judicial interpretation. The FTC Commissioners voted 3-0[5] to approve the Proposed Merger Tips, and the DOJ is totally aligned.

Accompanying the announcement, two of the three FTC Commissioners wrote separate statements (every joined by the others) to focus on completely different components of the Proposed Merger Tips, offering perception into what they view as most necessary.

Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter praised them for combining vertical and horizontal steering, recognizing that “few transactions in in the present day’s economic system are purely horizontal or vertical,” and noting, “some embrace elements of each,” or have dimensions that defy categorization. Commissioner Slaughter additionally touted the express recognition of the Clayton Act’s plain language prohibiting mergers which “are inclined to create a monopoly,” which, she argued, the earlier pointers failed to present “applicable weight.”

Commissioner Alvaro M. Bedoya devoted his five-page assertion to the significance of contemplating competitors in labor markets. Commissioner Bedoya’s assertion detailed 4 methods the Proposed Merger Tips acknowledge the significance of labor competitors, together with {that a} proposed transaction “can’t be saved by purported advantages to product markets” if it “considerably reduce[s] competitors in a labor market.” Whereas in line with the 2021 Govt Order and up to date DOJ and FTC insurance policies and proposed guidelines,[6] this proposed guideline introduces a groundbreaking change to merger assessment concerns. It’s notable, too, that Commissioner Bedoya selected to make use of the consequences of hospital mergers on nurses as an example his level. The healthcare trade has persistently been a significant goal of antitrust enforcement actions specializing in labor competitors.[7]

As a result of their views profoundly influence the merger assessment course of and number of offers for problem, understanding every particular person FTC Commissioner’s priorities, as articulated within the Proposed Merger Tips, will probably be important for companies and their counsel when assessing the antitrust dangers of mergers and acquisitions going ahead.

The Proposed Merger Tips comprise 13 “overview” pointers, which give standards the businesses could think about when reviewing transactions below the Clayton Act, adopted by dialogue of the small print, instruments to outline related markets, and a proof of how the businesses would strategy widespread rebuttal proof. Under is a quick abstract of the Proposed Merger Tips, damaged down into three classes: (1) what’s new because the earlier variations in 2010 and 2020; (2) what expands on the prior pointers; and (3) what stays primarily unchanged.

What’s New?

So much! The Proposed Merger Tips embrace numerous standards that characterize a big departure from many years of federal antitrust merger enforcement and depart ample of room for interpretation and future authorized challenges:

  • Guideline 5: Mergers shouldn’t considerably reduce competitors by making a agency that controls services or products that its rivals could use to compete.
  • Guideline 7: Mergers shouldn’t entrench or prolong a dominant place.
  • Guideline 8: Mergers shouldn’t additional a pattern towards focus.
  • Guideline 9: When a merger is a part of a sequence of a number of acquisitions, the businesses could look at the entire sequence.
  • Guideline 10: When a merger entails a multi-sided platform, the businesses look at competitors between platforms, on a platform, or to displace a platform.
  • Guideline 11: When a merger entails competing patrons, the businesses look at whether or not it might considerably reduce competitors for employees or different sellers.

What’s Been Expanded?

The Proposed Merger Tips develop the 2010 Horizontal and 2020 Vertical Merger Tips evaluation of potential competitors. Particularly:

  • Guideline 1: Mergers shouldn’t considerably improve focus in extremely concentrated markets.

Whereas the earlier merger pointers include comparable language, the Proposed Merger Tips introduce a market share threshold of 30%, above which a transaction will probably be presumed to violate Part 7 of the Clayton Act with out regard to general market focus if the transaction results a considerable change to the related market’s focus.

  • Guideline 4: Mergers shouldn’t get rid of a possible entrant in a concentrated market.

The 2010 Tips referred to evaluation of projected market shares, however the Proposed Merger Tips simplify the evaluation to say simply that elimination of potential entrants is prohibited. This part additionally highlights the businesses’ coverage view that the antitrust legal guidelines have a “desire for inside develop[th] over acquisition,” telling company reviewers to think about whether or not a number of of the corporations at subject would have a “cheap likelihood of getting into the related market” by itself, together with whether or not the agency(s) had the aptitude or may have acquired the aptitude to take action, even absent any intent to take action.

  • Guideline 6: Vertical mergers shouldn’t create market buildings that foreclose competitors.

That is just like the 2020 Vertical Merger Tips, however the Proposed Merger Tips introduce the idea {that a} “foreclosures share”[8] over 50 p.c, standing alone, is sufficient for the businesses to presume the vertical merger has the impact of considerably lessening competitors. The Proposed Merger Tips additionally seem to simplify and streamline the components the businesses will think about when the foreclosures share is under 50%.

What Hasn’t Modified?

These pointers existed within the 2010 and 2020 variations and stay largely unchanged:

  • Guideline 2: Mergers shouldn’t get rid of substantial competitors between corporations.
  • Guideline 3: Mergers shouldn’t improve the danger of coordination.
  • Guideline 12: When an acquisition entails partial possession or minority pursuits, the businesses look at its influence on competitors.
  • Guideline 13: Mergers shouldn’t in any other case considerably reduce competitors or are inclined to create a monopoly.[9]

These mirror broad ideas for antitrust enforcement, that are extra foundational in nature, so it is smart that altering dynamics in markets wouldn’t have an effect on them.

As we spend extra time with the Proposed Merger Tips, we are going to comply with up with further evaluation. Within the meantime, public remark is open right here till at the least September 18.


[1] Final up to date in 2010 for horizontal mergers and 2020 for vertical mergers.

[2] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/information/press-releases/2023/07/ftc-doj-seek-comment-draft-merger-guidelines.

[3] Whereas the Proposed Merger Tips cite a handful of current circumstances, the bulk are from the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies.

[4] https://www.legislation.cornell.edu/uscode/textual content/15/18.

[5] Presently solely the Commissioners from the Democratic Celebration are serving, with two Republican Commissioners to start serving later this 12 months, pending affirmation by the Senate.

[6] Take into account DOJ Antitrust Division’s current emphasis on no-poach and wage-fixing circumstances (e.g., right here), the FTC’s January 2023 proposed rulemaking to ban non-compete clauses (e.g., right here), and the FTC and DOJ’s discover of proposed rulemaking concerning premerger notification, which might require merging events to offer the businesses with info to evaluate the transaction’s impact on labor markets (e.g., right here).

[7] 4 of the 5 felony no-poach/wage-fixing circumstances introduced by the DOJ Antitrust Division since 2020 have concerned well being care firms and employees.

[8] The Proposed Merger Tips outline “foreclosures share” because the “share of the associated market that’s managed by the merged agency, such that it may foreclose rival’s entry to the associated product on aggressive phrases.”

[9] Whereas Commissioner Slaughter said the prior pointers didn’t give enough weight to the latter prong of Part 7 of the Clayton Act, we don’t think about this guideline to mirror a big change as a result of it merely incorporates the plain language of the statute, which the Proposed Merger Tips interpret.



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