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February 14, 2019

2018 US Merger Enforcement Year in Review


After more than a year of transition, both the DOJ and FTC have fully appointed leadership in place. Importantly, in 2018 the FTC went from only two sitting Commissioners to its full slate of five Commissioners. Although it took nearly 17 months for the full leadership teams to be in place, the US authorities continued to pursue transactions they believed raised competitive issues. Moreover, the authorities followed through on publicly stated skepticism toward vertical mergers that was voiced in 2017, while also focusing on future competition and monopsony issues. 2018 also featured substantial focus on implementing structural remedies, including the sufficiency of divestiture buyers and the scope of hold separate orders. While there was a non-trivial drop-off in the total formal actions this past year, the agencies pursued a number of significant cases and enforcement continued to be aggressive.