Mergers are surging, enforcement is changing, but one element of competition practice remains remarkably stable. A divestiture can save a deal otherwise destined for challenge. The substance of divestiture review still follows the principles applied in the past, and practice at the agencies remains reassuringly familiar. In an era of tougher and longer reviews, however, deal structure and timing may merit a new approach. Merging parties that fix deals before the culmination of review, and perhaps before the beginning of review, will have significant advantages. The challenge to parties and competition counsel is to assess the likely vulnerabilities of a deal, and undertake the repairs in advance of filing, instead of committing the transaction to a process they cannot control.

By William MacLeod1

 

Commentators throughout the competition community have reported, analyzed, and opined on the changes in merger and acquisition review in 2021. Vertical merger guidelines have been rescinded. Early terminations at the FTC are gone for the time being. Horizontal merger guidelines are under review. Investors, not just companies, are new subjects of interest. Adding to the uncertainty surrounding M&A, Congress is contemplating numerous bills to change burdens of proof and create special rules for concentrated markets. Meanwhile, the FTC has expressed doubts over the advice that staff has given on premerger issues.2 And after all is done, new consent orders may require com

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