Federal Agencies Finalize Antitrust Guidelines: The Kiplinger Letter

What new antitrust guidelines by the Justice Department and FTC mean for mergers and acquisitions.

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To help you understand what impact the Justice Department and the FTC's new antitrust guidelines will have on mergers and acquisitions and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

Two critical federal agencies have finalized new antitrust guidelines that are expected to have a chilling effect on mergers and acquisitions or, at the very least, expand the transactions subject to regulatory enforcement.

The update from the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the first since 2010. Among the changes are a lower market share for mergers to carry a presumption of harm and trigger action by Uncle Sam and greater scrutiny of vertical mergers — a focus on transactions that would extend or entrench a single firm’s dominance.

The agencies notably softened certain provisions from previous drafts, preserving firms’ ability to tout merger benefits and rebut allegations of harm. But the final guidelines maintain their most ambitious changes. Officials hope to build on recent antitrust victories, including a challenge to DNA sequencing giant Illumina’s acquisition of cancer test developer GRAIL— accelerating patient access to a life-saving multi-cancer early-detection test.

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Also, a recent analysis suggests that the Biden administration is largely succeeding with traditional antitrust cases but has struggled with more ambitious lawsuits.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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Matthew Housiaux
Reporter, The Kiplinger Letter
Housiaux covers the White House and state and local government for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in June 2016, he lived in Sioux Falls, SD, where he was the forum editor of Augustana University's student newspaper, the Mirror. He also contributed stories to the Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit focused on raising awareness of global poverty. He earned a B.A. in history and journalism from Augustana University.