The Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department announced they will explore the possibility of updating their jointly issued merger guidelines in order to reflect legal and economic changes since 1992, the last time they were substantially revised.
In a speech this morning to a global antitrust symposium, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz quipped that his country's guidelines for mergers between market competitors are “old enough to drive, almost old enough to vote and probably old enough to drink in all 27 members of the European Union.”
Leibowitz said the guidelines “clearly exaggerate the degree to which the agencies follow a rigid, step-by-step approach in merger analysis” and that in reality, the enforcers “center our inquiry on one key question: Is the merger under review likely to substantially lessen competition?”
In order to demystify the way the agencies answer that question, they will seek commentary in response to a set of questions to be issued later today and then hold a series of workshops beginning Dec. 3 in Washington and followed by others in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and a second in the nation's capital. (For more on this topic, please see the articles Trust issues and The urge to merge.)