Big Tech’s Small Mergers Bring More US Antitrust Review, Tech News News & Top Stories

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials presented data on small acquisitions by five large tech companies on Wednesday, Sept. 15, and the agency lifted guidelines on vertical mergers that involve a company with a supplier combined – both steps show plans to be tougher on deals.

According to a study begun during the Trump administration, FTC staff found that Facebook, Alphabets, Google, Amazon.com, Apple and Microsoft made 616 acquisitions from 2010 to 2019 that exceeded $ 1 million ($ 1.34 million US dollars), but were too small to be reported to antitrust authorities, among others.

Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, a Democrat, said it was insufficient to look at the deals individually. “I see series acquisitions as a Pac-Man strategy. Any single merger, viewed independently, does not seem to have a significant impact.

But the collective impact of hundreds of smaller acquisitions can lead to monopoly behavior, “she said.

Commissioner Christine Wilson, a Republican, called for a similar study on health care mergers.

The FTC sued Facebook last year with allegations that the social media company violated antitrust law. It has asked a judge to reverse Facebook’s deals for the photo sharing app Instagram and the messaging app WhatsApp, despite both being reviewed by the agency.

The FTC, which began holding open meetings after progressive Ms. Lina Khan took over chairmanship in June, also voted to withdraw Trump-era guidelines on vertical deals. Republicans Wilson and Noah Phillips rejected the decision.

The Justice Department said in a statement it was reviewing both the guidelines for vertical mergers and the guidelines for horizontal deals or mergers of competitors.

“The department’s review has already identified several aspects of the policy that require careful consideration and we will work closely with the FTC to update them as necessary,” Richard Powers, acting director of the Antitrust division, said in a statement.

The FTC seldom tries to stop vertical deals, but recently asked a judge to block biotech company’s Illumina deal to buy Grail. The companies want to market a blood test to diagnose dozens of cancers.

The five commissioners voted along the party lines for a policy statement on a rule requiring consumers to be informed of any unauthorized use of health data. The commissioners also approved a process for accepting contributions on possible rules.

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