Washington – The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have released new proposed merger guidelines that reflect the agencies’ increased scrutiny to further limit mergers and acquisitions for U.S. companies in multi-sided markets.
The merger guidelines lower the bar for what mergers would be presumptively illegal and would take the U.S. a step closer to European style competition rules by protecting some competitors from competition. The guidelines specifically call out digital platforms, noting the agencies’ focus on whether a merger harms competition “between platforms, on a platform or to displace a platform.”
Stakeholders will now have 60 days to comment on the proposed guidelines and regulators will then consider revisions to this draft before issuing final guidelines that courts would consider when deciding whether to allow mergers and acquisitions to proceed.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for competition in the tech industry and fought mergers leading to consolidation that would have harmed competition and consumers like NBC/Comcast and AT&T/T-Mobile for over 50 years. Last year, CCIA filed comments to the FTC and DOJ on whether the current 2010 merger guidelines are transparent and clear enough to companies considering mergers and acquisitions.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“As technology and AI infuse more sectors of the economy, creating a special set of regulations that apply only to specific companies doesn’t make good legal or economic sense. Without appropriate revision, these guidelines risk chilling valuable transactions in ways that would weaken U.S. exporters’ ability to compete globally.”
The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President of Global Competition and Regulatory Policy Krisztian Katona:
“It is important to periodically review and reexamine merger guidelines to make sure they reflect current practices, market realities, and economic learning. However, a key question is how durable any revision will be and how courts will treat the new concepts and significant changes proposed in the guidelines. Guidelines should reflect actual merger review practice versus attempting to create new concepts.”