Justice Department and FTC Launch Listening Forums

Justice Department and FTC Launch Listening Forums on Firsthand Effects of Mergers and Acquisitions

Forums to Focus on Markets Commonly Impacted by Mergers: Food and Agriculture, Health Care, Media and Entertainment, and Technology

(STL.News) The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a series of listening forums to hear from those who have experienced firsthand the effects of mergers and acquisitions beyond antitrust experts, including consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, farmers, investors and independent businesses.  The four forums will be held virtually over the next three months and helmed by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Antitrust Division and FTC Chair Lina M. Khan.

The four forums will focus on industries and labor markets that are commonly impacted by mergers that may reduce competition. The dates are as follows:

Monday, March 28 at 3pm ET – Food and Agriculture
Thursday, April 14 at 2pm ET – Health Care
Wednesday, April 27 at 1:30pm ET – Media and Entertainment
Thursday, May 12 at 2pm ET – Technology
The listening forums will be open to the public, webcast on the FTC’s website, transcribed, posted online, and included as part of the public record.

Assistant Attorney General Kanter and Chair Khan will attend each event with staff from both agencies.  At each event, Assistant Attorney General Kanter and Chair Khan will provide a brief introduction followed by remarks from each speaker.  Speakers will include independent business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers, workers and other market participants.  At the conclusion of the speakers’ remarks, members of the public will have an opportunity to comment.  Those who wish to participate may register to speak virtually at one of the events.  Due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, these forums will be held virtually.  Additional forums may be added at a later date.

The forums will supplement the agencies’ recent request for comments on merger enforcement guidelines to ensure that the agencies hear from affected groups who might not otherwise participate in the process.  The agencies have also extended the deadline for written comments submitted through regulations.gov.  Comment submission will be open through April 21.

In January, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and FTC launched a joint public inquiry aimed at strengthening enforcement against illegal mergers.  Recent evidence indicates that many industries across the economy are becoming more concentrated and less competitive – imperiling choice and economic gains for consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses.  These problems are likely to persist or worsen due to an ongoing merger surge that has more than doubled merger filings from 2020 to 2021.  To address mounting concerns, the agencies are soliciting public input on ways to modernize federal merger guidelines to better detect and prevent illegal, anticompetitive deals in today’s modern markets.

In addition to the public comment period and these listening forums, the agencies will hold a Spring Enforcers Summit on April 4.  The summit will include conversations about merger enforcement as well as discussions on how to work with industry regulators as part of a whole-of-government approach to competition policy.

SOURCE: USDOJ.Today