Department of Justice and FTC launch listening forums on the direct effects of mergers and acquisitions | Takeover bid

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a series of listening forums to hear from those who have experienced first-hand 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 will be led by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Antitrust Division and FTC Chairman Lina M. Khan.

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

  • Monday, March 28 at 3 p.m. ET – Food and Agriculture
  • Thursday, April 14 at 2 p.m. ET – Healthcare
  • Wednesday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET – Media and Entertainment
  • Thursday, May 12 at 2 p.m. ET – Technology

Listening Forums will be open to the public, broadcast on the FTC’s website, transcribed, posted online, and included in the public record.

Deputy Attorney General Kanter and President Khan will attend each event with staff from both agencies. At each event, Deputy Attorney General Kanter and President Khan will provide a brief introduction followed by remarks from each speaker. Speakers will include independent business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers, workers and other market players. At the end of the speaker addresses, members of the public will have an opportunity to comment. Those who wish to participate can 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 later.

The forums will complement the recent request for agency feedback on merger enforcement guidelines to ensure that agencies hear from affected groups who otherwise would not participate in the process. The agencies also extended the deadline for written comments submitted through Regulations.gov. Submission of comments will be open until April 21.

In January, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the FTC launched a joint public investigation aimed at bolstering the fight against illegal mergers. Recent data indicates that many industries in the economy are increasingly concentrated and less competitive, jeopardizing choice and economic gains for consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. These issues are likely to persist or worsen due to an ongoing merger spree that has more than doubled merger filings from 2020 to 2021. To address growing concerns, agencies are seeking public comment on ways to modernize federal merger guidelines to better detect, and prevent, anti-competitive agreements 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 on merger enforcement as well as discussions on how to work with industry regulators as part of a whole-of-government approach to competition policy.

For more information on these listening forums, visit the event page.

Harry L. Blanchard