AAI’s Response to Vertical Merger Guidelines Highlighted by Dealreporter

Dealreporter’s July 2 article “US vertical merger guidelines reflect existing policy, attorneys say” featured AAI’s response to the new U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)  and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Vertical Merger Guidelines which expressed disappointment that the agencies cast aside the open and transparent process they had started to put in place prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of fully vetting public opinion on the draft guidelines, the agencies held only one DOJ workshop, cancelled and never rescheduled a second FTC workshop, and side-stepped a second round of comments. This contrasts starkly with the careful and thorough effort the agencies put into crafting the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines. From the article:

The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) underscored that point on 30 June – the day the final guidelines were published – when it called for a do-over by the next administration because the guidelines “fall short of what is needed to protect competition.” The organization lists several issues raised earlier this year in comments on the agencies’ draft document that are not addressed in the final version, including a “presumption” that certain vertical deals are likely to harm competition…

…Part of AAI’s criticism of the final guidelines relates to past vertical deals that involve consent decrees. Laura Alexander, AAI’s vice president of policy, noted in a statement that the DoJ recently had to revisit the current consent order in Live Nation Entertainment’s [NYSE:LYV] acquisition of Ticketmaster. This deal is hard evidence that post-merger harms are real and shines a spotlight on how damaging they can be, she wrote.