The dangers of prematurely exercising operational control over an acquisition target, or at least appearing to operate organizational control, are highlighted by a Department of Justice Antitrust Division action announced yesterday against two particleboard suppliers that recently dropped their planned combination. Just five weeks ago, Flakeboard America Ltd. abandoned its proposed acquisition of rival SierraPine in the face of the government’s antitrust concerns. Now, the companies have agreed to pay millions to settle allegations that they engaged in premerger coordination, also known as “gun jumping,” in violation of both Sec. 7A of the Clayton Act and Sec. 1 of the Sherman Act.
Two unusual features of the United Kingdom’s merger control regime are that notification is voluntary and there is no ‘suspension’ obligation. This means that mergers can be – and routinely are – completed without notification to and/or approval by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”).
In this article, I examine the CMA’s use of its new powers to impose interim measures in the case of completed mergers. Through these powers, the CMA can prevent or limit the integration of the merged businesses pending completion of the CMA’s merger review. Self-evidently, this can have significant commercial consequences for the merging parties, in particular the acquiring party.
On October 14, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, the latest in its long line of cases interpreting the state action exemption to the antitrust laws. Dozens of amici have written briefs supporting both parties. Those briefs reveal significantly different opinions about the costs and benefits of state licensure boards and how their actions should be treated under the antitrust laws.
The state action exemption can be quickly summarized: bona fide state regulation of the economy, even if anticompetitive, is exempt from the federal antitrust laws. Such a quick summary, however, belies the complexities explored in numerous Court [...]
The University of Iowa Law Review will host a Centennial Symposium, honoring the work of Professor Herbert Hovenkamp, on October 23-24, in Iowa City. Hovenkamp, the Ben and Dorothy Willie Chair at Iowa College of Law, has authored roughly 100 articles, approximately 50 essays and book reviews, and dozens of books. He is the senior surviving author of the landmark antitrust treatise Antitrust Law: An Analysis of Antitrust Principles & Their Application.
A stalwart of the antitrust community, Herb was presented in 2008 with the U.S. Department of Justice John Sherman Award for his lifetime contributions to the teaching and enforcement of antitrust law and the development of antitrust policy. H [...]
Just over a year ago, I wrote (rather extensively) on the European Commission’s public consultation entitled “Towards more effective EU Merger Control” in which the Commission proposed to (i) expand its powers to review non-controlling minority interests and (ii) streamline the case referral system between the European Commission and NCAs.
Our regular readers will note that Mark Jones alerted them to the European Commission’s second public consultation on this subject. As Mark noted, the deadline for this consultation closes on 3 October 2014.
The purpose of this post is not to repeat Mark’s (or indeed my prior 2013 post). Rather I thought that it may be useful to put down some tho [...]
The FTC’s challenge to the now-consummated combination of Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc.—the operator of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital—and rival Palmyra Park Hospital, Inc. in Albany, Georgia, is headed back to administrative litigation. More than a year after announcing a tentative settlement in the case, the FTC has refused to grant final approval to the proposed consent order. On Friday, the Commission issued an order, returning the matter to Part III litigation to determine whether the acquisition reduced competition in the market for acute-care hospital services sold to commercial health plans in a six-county area, as alleged in the agency’s 2011 complaint.
The proposed settle [...]
To continue its growth, the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) is recruiting the next generation of antitrust practitioners. The AAI is seeking the antitrust community’s support of new programs aimed at connecting with this next generation.
Antitrust practitioners can help by nominating a young lawyer for Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement by a Young Lawyer. The award will be presented at the Antitrust Enforcement Awards dinner on December 2.
This award is limited to private civil actions. Nominees should be individual practitioner(s) under 40 years old or admitted to practice for 10 years or less.
Nominees will be judged on:
One firm’s ability to break into the market for “bone mills” used in spinal-fusion surgery did not foreclose the possibility that medical device company Medtronic monopolized or attempted to monopolize the bone mill market, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled last week. Bone mill manufacturer Lenox MacLaren Surgical Corporation raised sufficient fact questions, including questions regarding barriers to entry, to defeat summary judgment on its monopolization and attempted monopolization claims. The August 5, 2014, decision is Lenox MacLaren Surgical Corp. v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 13-1307.
The suit follows a falling out between Lenox and Medtronic. Lenox had sold some of its bone mi [...]
Bundled discounts are common marketing schemes that normally benefit consumers and competition; however, courts and commentators have found certain circumstances when they might be illegal monopolization. The line between hard competition and exclusionary conduct has confounded antitrust counselors and their pricing clients for years, but, it seemed like only companies with monopoly power need be concerned. Now, a Pennsylvania district court in Schuylkill Health Systems v. Cardinal Health, Inc., et al., has further muddied the waters by allowing a bundling claim to proceed under Sherman Act Section 1, even after dismissing other claims for lack of market or monopoly power.
A bundled disc [...]
As the U.S. Sentencing Commission considers reforms of the guidelines for antitrust crimes, it should take action to affirm the importance of antitrust compliance programs as an essential tool in the fight against cartels, and to provide a balance against the Antitrust Division’s past approach of refusing to consider compliance programs in any case for any purpose. The Division has been an outlier in the Department of Justice in rejecting the Sentencing Commission’s premise that companies may have violations even when they have good programs. The Division’s “one-size-fits-all” policy of never giving any type of benefit or credit for diligent compliance efforts, no matter what the f [...]