FTC’s Wilson Says Steep Drop In Deals Makes Merger Ban Unnecessary

A significant drop in mergers that trigger antitrust reviews renders moot any calls by Democratic lawmakers to ban all mergers during the coronavirus pandemic, a Republican Federal Trade Commissioner said. 

 Mergers that require review either by the FTC or the Justice Department “have dropped off precipitously,” by roughly two-thirds since the start of the pandemic, Commissioner Christine Wilson said Monday during a conference hosted by the Federalist Society. As a result, any proposal to ban mergers completely should be dismissed, she said.

According to Bloomberg Law, in April, Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed a ban on all corporate mergers during the pandemic. They expressed concern that dominant technology companies and private equity groups in particular are poised to engage in a buying spree leading to further industry consolidation.

The proposal, considered a long-shot effort, failed to make it into the latest coronavirus relief package proposed by House Democrats May 12. 

Representatives for Ocasio-Cortez and Warren didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In a statement to Bloomberg Law, Cicilline said that permitting dominant companies and private equity funds to engage in M&A activity during the pandemic “would be detrimental to the vast majority of Americans.” 

“You hear some whining about how the sky will fall if we do a merger moratorium, but the truth is that the only people who lose from pressing pause on big mergers are top executives, bankers, and corporate lawyers,” Cicilline said. 

Full Content: Bloomberg

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