On October 4, 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced 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
Leo Caseria is Co-Chair of both the firm’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group and Governmental Practice and a partner in the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles offices.
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 July 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) 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, to keep up with “modern” market realities. 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. 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”).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”) 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
1. Higher Jurisdictional Thresholds For HSR Filings
On January 23, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, higher thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The jurisdictional thresholds are revised annually based on the change in Gross National Product (GNP).Continue Reading Higher Jurisdictional and Filing Fees Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced
On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a broad proposed rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The FTC press release announcing the proposed rule states that noncompete clauses—which apply to about one in five American workers—suppress wages, hamper innovation, block entrepreneurs from starting new businesses and reduce American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year. The proposed rule would prohibit employers from: (1) entering into or attempting to enter into a noncompete with a worker; (2) maintaining a noncompete with a worker; or (3) representing to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete. The term “worker” covers paid staff in addition to independent contractors and unpaid staff. The proposed rule does not apply to noncompete provisions imposed upon 25% owners of a business in transaction documents related to the sale of the business. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period commencing when the Federal Register publishes the proposed rule.Continue Reading FTC Seeks to Ban Noncompete Agreements in Employment Contracts
On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law H.R. 2617, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.” Included within H.R. 2617 is The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, which impacts HSR filings as set forth below:Continue Reading New Law Substantially Increases HSR Filing Fees for Large Transactions
On November 10, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission issued its “Policy Statement Regarding the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” The Statement replaces prior guidance on the subject that was rescinded by the FTC on July 1, 2021 and “supersedes all prior FTC policy statements and advisory guidance on the scope and meaning of unfair methods of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act.”Continue Reading FTC Policy Statement on the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition – A Broad But Vague Warning
The Department of Justice recently filed a complaint to prevent Booz Allen Hamilton’s $440 million acquisition of “agile and innovative” competitor EverWatch, Inc. Among the notable aspects of the complaint is its definition of the relevant market as a single NSA contract and its assertion that the merger agreement itself constituted a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.Continue Reading DOJ Sues to Block Merger Between Booz Allen Hamilton and EverWatch Based on Antitrust Concerns Relating to Single-Contract Market
Many have been wondering when FTC and DOJ will resume granting early termination of the HSR waiting period in deals that present no anticompetitive concerns. Early termination does not appear to be coming back anytime soon.
Continue Reading FTC, Under Pressure from “Tidal Wave” of HSR Filings, To Begin Issuing Close-At-Your-Own-Risk Letters