Sunday, June 4, 2023

US regulators target illegal and anti-competitive mergers

WASHINGTON (AP) – US competition regulators have tried to tighten enforcement against illegal mergers in line with President Joe Biden’s mandate to more scrutinize large business combinations.

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that they are seeking public comment about how existing merger guidelines can be updated to better identify and prevent illegal and competitive deals in an increasingly consolidating corporate market. Is. Agencies are stressing the importance of strong competition for the economy, workers, consumers and small businesses.

“Our country depends on competition to drive progress, innovation and prosperity,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, chief of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “We need to understand why there are so few competitors in so many industries, and to think carefully about how to ensure that our merger enforcement tools are fit for purpose in the modern economy.”

In their request for public views on the merger, regulators are moving towards a broader definition of anti-competitive conduct. They said they are interested in aspects of competition that may be overlooked by current merger guidelines, such as the impact on labor markets and other issues not tied to prices, such as innovation and quality. Regulators are also looking for specific examples of mergers that have hurt competition.

“Today the DOJ and the FTC must begin to orient the US government once again toward freedom and equitable democracy. The government’s antimonopoly guidelines provide an important statement that How do regulators view the nature of power.” The group advocates tighter antitrust regulation.

The trend towards concentration began in the 1980s with the boom of mergers in Corporate America that eroded the profits of major companies. Decisions by both Democratic and Republican administrations over the past 15 years have allowed most major mergers to go ahead.

Regulators noted on Tuesday that the growth of ongoing mergers was reflected in regulators’ applications for approval of companies, which more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.

The latest eye-popping proposed merger landed on Tuesday, with news that Microsoft is paying nearly $70 billion for Activision Blizzard, maker of Candy Crush and Call of Duty, as it takes on the fiercely competitive businesses of mobile gaming and virtual-reality. Wants an edge. Technology.

The full-cash deal worth $68.7 billion should come under scrutiny from US and European regulators in the coming months. If approved, it would transform Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox gaming system, into one of the largest video game companies in the world.

Biden issued a comprehensive executive order in July that highlighted external market power in industries including Big Tech, health care, airlines and agriculture. Biden said the actions he called for would lower prices for families, increase wages for workers and spur innovation and faster economic growth. The order includes 72 acts and recommendations for federal agencies that must convert its policy into rules.

At least, the big players have more control over various markets, according to the White House, with companies more than triple the cost, leading to higher prices for necessities such as drugs, hearing aids and Internet services for families. are bringing

Tuesday’s announcement was made by Kanter and FTC chief Lina Khan. Kentor, an antitrust lawyer who opposes giant tech companies in private practices, took over the Justice Antitrust Division in November. Khan, who became head of the FTC in June, was an outspoken critic of Big Tech before coming to government.

Trump is likely to sue Google in a landmark antitrust case filed by the Justice Department in October 2020, accusing the company of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.

Meanwhile, the FTC is pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, now called Meta, which claims the tech giant has a monopoly in the social networking market. The agency is exploring measures that could include a forced spinoff or an overall restructuring of the company’s popular Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.

In a significant antitrust action, the Justice Department sued in November to block German media giant Bertelsmann’s proposed $2.2 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Penguin Random House, already the largest US book publisher. Regulators said the industry consolidation would hurt writers and, ultimately, readers, giving Penguin Random House an “outside influence” on which books are published in the US and how much authors are paid.

In another action last fall, the Justice Department challenged American Airlines’ partnership with JetBlue, claiming it could bring in higher airfares.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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