At Washington Legal Foundation’s media briefing program last Tuesday, Same Administration, New Management: What to Expect from DOJ and FTC on Antitrust and Consumer Protection, speaker Janet McDavid noted the aggressive challenges William Baer, the Justice Department’s new Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, initiated against mergers when he was director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition.
Mr. Baer wasted no time substantiating Ms. McDavid’s point, filing suit to prevent the consummation of a merger between America’s highest market-share brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Mexico’s largest, Grupo Modelo.
If the Justice Department takes action to keep inexpensive beer inexpensive (an action certainly counter to governments’ taxation and other policies aimed at advancing temperance), the business community can be sure that it won’t hesitate to move against other combinations, joint ventures, etc. in the next four years. Our hour-long program would be thus be a worthy investment of time.
In addition to Ms. McDavid, a partner at Hogan Lovells LLP, WLF’s January 29 program (which can be viewed by clicking the title above) included experienced perspectives from Squire Sanders partner Brady Dugan and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Of Counsel Andrea Murino. WLF Legal Policy Advisory Board Chairman, K&L Gates Counsel Dick Thornburgh, moderated the discussion.
In addition to assessing the future of merger review and enforcement, the speakers addressed civil exclusionary conduct actions; FTC and DOJ approaches to intellectual property (including standards-essential patents and patent “trolls”); criminal enforcement; international antitrust cooperation; and the division of labor between the two federal agencies.
A Powerpoint deck including slides utilized by Ms. McDavid and Ms. Murino can be downloaded here.
Addendum (Feb. 5): Further evidence of a more aggressive approach to mergers can also be seen in the Justice Department’s challenge to an already-consumated merger between two online product review companies. Read more about it from several of Janet McDavid’s colleagues here.