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 The Final Merger Guidelines update and replace the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and the rescinded 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines.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

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

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,[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

On February 22, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new nation-wide policy to incentivize companies to self-report criminal activity. Among the cited benefits of self-reporting are discounts on fines and non-prosecution agreements. This new policy arrives on the heels of the “Monaco Memo,” issued in September 2022 by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, which directed each prosecutorial DOJ component to review its policies on corporate voluntary self-disclosures and update to reflect the guidance’s core principles. The policy also is in addition to guidance from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who in December 2022 emphasized prosecutorial leniency in criminal cases. Together, these memos show a shift from prior administrations, which emphasized prosecuting the “most serious, readily provable offense,” not leniency for self-disclosures. Notably, the new policy does not impact individual actors, who, since the 2015 Yates Memo, still are a DOJ priority. Indeed, the new policy emphasizes that crediting voluntary self-disclosure by companies will help DOJ “ensure individual accountability” for individual criminal conduct. We break down key elements of the DOJ’s policy below, including our quick thoughts on how this policy may impact corporate decisions going forward. Continue Reading Corporate Voluntary Self-Disclosure of Criminal Activity: More of the Same or a Real Sea Change?

Federal agencies aggressively pursued enforcement actions in June. At the same time, state and federal regulators continued to recognize the importance of blockchain industry regulation by putting forth significant policy proposals, including proposals that impact cryptocurrency miners, 401k plans, and more.Continue Reading June 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions and Regulatory Guidance Roundup

The Department of Justice recently filed a complaint to prevent Booz Allen Hamilton’s $440 million acquisition of “agile and innovative” competitor EverWatch, Inc.[1] 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

On September 10, 2020, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued the latest in a series of circulars regarding corporate compliance released this summer by government agencies. In June, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued updated guidance regarding its evaluation of corporate compliance programs (see our prior blog here). In July, DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) jointly issued an updated Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which includes a 12-part section covering the “hallmarks” of effective corporate compliance programs. The instant CFTC guidance is the first issued by CFTC on this topic. The guidance signals to commodities market participants that compliance programs that do not meet guideline standards are fair game for CFTC examination and enforcement staff.
Continue Reading CFTC Throws its Hat into the Corporate Compliance Arena

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released updated guidance regarding its evaluation of corporate compliance programs on June 1, 2020.  The release comes just over a year since the guidance was last updated in April 2019.  While these latest changes are less extensive than the most recent ones, there are some key differences that suggest the DOJ may be shifting some areas of focus when it comes to its approach to assessing the effectiveness of corporate compliance programs.
Continue Reading DOJ Updates Corporate Compliance Guidance