Diana Moss Explains How Merger Review Compares Under Different Administrations (The Street)

Diana Moss was quoted in the November 7, 2017 The Street story Trump’s Antitrust Team Sends Mixed Message on M&A.

Did the specter of rejection send an ominous message that the Trump administration’s antitrust regime was going to be tough on dealmakers? Not necessarily, said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, who noted that it was a crossover merger that was reviewed by regulators in both the Obama and Trump administrations.

“That was a horizontal deal and a pretty bad one, very anti-competitive,” she said. “They were looking at that for a long time.”

 “There are a growing lineup of cases that are going to be the test of the Trump administration,” Moss said. “Some cases will be a test of the administration’s stance on concentration.”

 Moss said she was surprised that the FTC didn’t even issue a second request, which would have allowed for regulators to take a closer look at the markets involved, including the sourcing of natural and organic foods and the distribution of products to consumers.

“If these vertical mergers sail through you will start to see a real fundamental shift in the competition paradigm, where large systems only compete head to head and smaller unintegrated rivals have a much harder time getting into and staying in markets,” she said.

Moss said that the Monsanto-Bayer deal, if approved, would create a closed system where Monsanto’s traits, seeds and chemicals don’t work with rival products. She also raised concerns about a potential CVS-Aetna hookup, arguing that the combination could have incentives to exclude rival pharmacy benefit managers and other health insurers.