Friday, October 27, 2006

DOJ quietly tries out merger reforms

Without fanfare, the Department of Justice's antitrust division has implemented reforms aimed at cutting the cost that agency antitrust reviews impose on merging parties.
Although the cost of filing a merger notification is generally less than a quarter of a million dollars, responding to a second request for information — a process the antitrust agencies use to examine competitive problems in mergers between competitors and other strategic combinations — had soared to as high as $50 million on a single deal.
DOJ's attempt to streamline the second-request process follows a similar initiative at the Federal Trade Commission. Earlier this year, FTC Chairman Debbie Majoras announced a merger process reform at her agency, which promised to limit to 35 the number of employees who must respond to the agency's requests for data. There's once catch, however: The parties must agree to certain concessions, including a two-month period for pretrial discovery if the FTC decides to block a merger.

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