Mergers Subject to Greater Scrutiny under Biden

On July 9, the President by executive order directed government agencies to bolster competition through stricter analysis under the anti-trust laws.  On the 15th of September, the FTC, by 3-2 party vote, rescinded vertical merger guidelines adopted under the Trump administration (although such action left no formal guidance on the books).  That same day, the DOJ announced it was reviewing both its vertical and horizontal guidelines.

The rescinded Trump era guidance permitted vertical mergers if they created efficiencies or had some procompetitive effects; such provisions were declared unacceptable.

Separately on the same day, the FTc by 3-2 vote issued a policy statement holding health apps to the FTC rules requiring such apps to comply with the sweeping rules requiring consumer notification in the event of health data breaches.

\It is not a surprise that a Democratic administration would land on the side of greater governmental regulation of business; nor do I suggest such a result is necessarily a negative.  However, as to vertical integration mergers I do note that such deals might be a partial solution to the supply chain issues which hamper the supply side of our economy during and coming out of COVID.

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