FTC warns of ‘tidal wave’ of mergers

The Federal Trade Commission building in Washington, D.C., is seen on June 18
Greg Nash

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is facing a “tidal wave” of new mergers, it said in a Tuesday announcement that also warned companies against consummating unreviewed deals.

The agency said that because of a surge in proposed deals it will not be able to complete all reviews within the standard 30-day window. If reviews take longer than that allotted time, companies will be notified.

“We believe it is important to be upfront about these capacity constraints,” said Holly Vedova, acting director of the commission’s Bureau of Competition.

“[W]e have begun to send standard form letters alerting companies that the FTC’s investigation remains open and reminding companies that the agency may subsequently determine that the deal was unlawful,” she continued in the announcement. “Companies that choose to proceed with transactions that have not been fully investigated are doing so at their own risk.”

Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, the FTC and the Justice Department’s antitrust division are given 30 days to decide whether a proposed merger should face further investigation.

If the regulators do decide to pursue a probe, they will send relevant companies a “second request” for information. A small portion of proposed mergers are subject to the requests.

The FTC said Tuesday that the notifications it will send to companies if merger reviews aren’t completed “should not be construed as a determination that the deal is unlawful, just as the fact that we have not issued such a letter with respect to an HSR filing should not be construed as a determination that a deal is lawful.”

Tags Federal Trade Commission FTC Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act mergers Mergers and acquisitions United States antitrust law
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