FTC, DoJ consider new merger guidelines

Are you considering a merger? Be advised that the antitrust rules for such deals may be changing right out from under you.

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have decided to hold a series of public workshops to update their horizontal merger guidelines. This is the first time the agencies have considered updating these guidelines since 1992. (Think a few things have changed in the past 17 years?) The DoJ first adopted merger guidelines in 1968, and over time they've morphed into "horizontal merger guidelines."

Now the DoJ, working with the FTC, is trying to figure out how the guidelines should be changed. They're inviting the public to comment on a wide range of topics, including how well their method of analysis works; how markets should be defined; the definition of price discrimination; the distinction between efficiencies involving fixed and marginal cost savings; and the non-price effects of mergers.

The agency is beginning the process by posting a set of questions about the guidelines on its website. It will hold a series of public hearings in December 2009 and January 2010. Live webcasts are available.

To learn more about the proposed changes:
- read this FTC press release