Antitrust Law Blog

Current Antitrust & Competition News & Regulatory Developments

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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

On 10 May 2022, the European Commission adopted new EU competition rules for vertical distribution agreements that entered into force on 1 June 2022, bringing important amendments to the current rules by partly narrowing the safe harbour but also allowing for more flexibility. Distribution agreements that are already in force on 31 May 2022 benefit from a one-year transitional period.
Continue Reading Updated EU Competition Rules for Vertical Agreements

Since President Biden’s July 2021 direction to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” the FTC has ratcheted up its scrutiny of and investigations into non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants. Now, the FTC has expanded beyond post-employment restrictive covenants to tackle “sale of business” non-competes. Most recently, the FTC voted in favor of a deal-changing proposed order against ARKO Corp. related to its 2021 acquisition of sixty fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company.
Continue Reading Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The FTC Is Coming for Your M&A Non-Competes

There has been a nationwide shortage of infant formula following a recall and temporary closure of a major infant formula manufacturing facility in February 2022. This facility supplied as much as 40% of the nation’s infant formula. In the wake of these events, state attorneys general are on the lookout for unlawful price gouging of infant formula. Sellers of infant formula should make sure that they do not inadvertently run afoul of state price gouging restrictions.
Continue Reading States Target Infant Formula Price Gouging

On May 18, a coalition of 235 consumer, environmental, and public interest groups penned a petition urging the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices undertaken by electric utilities, pursuant to Article 6(b) of the FTC Act, which empowers the agency to conduct a broad investigative study and request information. Sec. 6(b), 15 U.S.C. § 46(b).
Continue Reading Federal Trade Commission Petitioned To Investigate Electric Utilities

Procurement Collusion Strike Force

The Procurement Collusion Strike Force, formed by the Department of Justice in 2019, is ramping up enforcement pressures against government contractors. The Strike Force brings together the DOJ Antitrust Division criminal offices, state Attorneys General, and federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and Federal Trade Commission.[1] The Strike Force is an effort to crack down on anticompetitive activities in public procurement, which the DOJ views as particularly susceptible to the costs of collusive activity.[2] The Department was already devoting significant resources to public procurement crimes,[3] and the Strike Force represents
Continue Reading Government Contractors Facing Increased Antitrust Scrutiny

Earlier this month, on the eve of the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division rolled out significant updates to its Leniency Program, most readily discernible through an augmented, plain-language set of 82 Frequently Asked Questions, as well as the Division’s updated Leniency Policies and Procedures and Model Corporate Conditional Leniency Letter.
Continue Reading Updates to DOJ Leniency Policy Further Complicate Decisions to Seek Antitrust Immunity; Some Suggestions from the Field

On March 2, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers laid out a significant and aggressive criminal enforcement agenda for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. While speaking at the the ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Francisco, CA, Powers began his remarks by noting that the Division’s Criminal Section currently had 18 indicted cases against 10 companies and 42 individuals, including 8 CEOs or Presidents. DAAG Powers also noted that the Section had 146 open grand jury investigations – more than at any time in the last thirty years and “expect[ed] to stay busy this
Continue Reading Executives Beware: DOJ Antitrust Division is Taking a Hard Look at a Wide Spectrum of Potential Criminal Violations

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal recently voiced skepticism of Kentucky’s Certificate of Need (“CON”) laws while simultaneously ruling that they met the Fourteenth Amendment’s “rational basis” test.[1]
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Questions Efficacy of State “Certificate of Need” Laws, Question Whether Reduces Competition

Although the number of corporate mergers surged during President Biden’s first year in office, all signs point to a tougher regulatory environment for deals going forward.

In 2021, $5.8 trillion changed hands as a result of corporate mergers across the globe.[1]  This 64 percent increase over 2020 far surpassed the previous annual record,[2] and now the Biden Administration appears to be taking steps toward fulfilling the President’s goal of ramping up antitrust enforcement.[3]  One such measure includes taking a more critical approach when evaluating proposed mergers, and federal agencies have already filed several high-profile investigations.[4]
Continue Reading Looking Ahead to Tougher Merger Guidelines and Enforcement

  • Higher Thresholds For HSR Filings
  • On January 24, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, higher thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The filing thresholds are revised annually, based on the change in Gross National Product (GNP) and after last year’s atypical decrease they have again increased.
    Continue Reading Higher Filing Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced

    President Biden recently wrote a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan urging the Commission to immediately investigate potential anticompetitive behavior in the oil and gas sector. The President noted that gas prices have been rising, while the costs faced by oil and gas companies themselves have decreased. Concerned that the two largest oil and gas companies in the country are set to double their net income over 2019 while the gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the price at the pump is increasing, he called on the FTC to “bring all of the Commission’s tools to bear if
    Continue Reading Antitrust Scrutiny Heating Up in Oil and Gas Industries

    Last month, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired the latest and perhaps most high-profile legislative salvo against Big Tech to date – the proposed American Innovation and Choice Online Act.  This Senate bill would update the antitrust laws with the specific goal of reigning in large technology companies.  This comes after a year of high-profile hearings in which the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, under Klobuchar’s direction, has investigated the conduct of Apple, Google, and other big tech companies.
    Continue Reading Senate Zeros in on Big Tech with Latest Antitrust Reform Bill

    FTC announces that its merger enforcement orders will once again require prior approval before the subject firm can make a future acquisition affecting any relevant market for which a violation was alleged.

    On October 25, 2021, the FTC issued a Prior Approval Policy Statement (the “Statement”) reinstating its prior practice of routinely requiring merging parties subject to a Commission order to obtain prior approval from the FTC before closing any future transaction affecting any relevant market for which a violation was alleged. The Policy Statement implements the Commission’s July 21, 2021 vote rescinding its 1995 Policy Statement on Prior Approval
    Continue Reading Back to the “Good Old Days”: FTC Announces Return to Prior Merger Approval Regime