Biden Admin Releases Guidelines For Policing Business Mergers

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Will Kessler Contributor
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Federal antitrust regulators released new guidelines Wednesday on how they will review future corporate mergers, taking aim at Big Tech and the effects of big mergers on workers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a drafted update to federal guidelines that outlines their policies on merger and acquisition reviews to determine antitrust law compliance, according to a joint press release. The draft gives 13 guidelines that the two agencies could look at when reviewing business mergers, with one addressing platform consolidations in Big Tech and another requiring reviewers to take workers’ market value into account. (RELATED: Darrell Issa Accuses Dem Rep Of Smearing Republicans With ‘Racial Slur’ In The Middle Of Hearing)

“Open, competitive, resilient markets have been a bedrock of America’s economic success and dynamism throughout our nation’s history,” Lina Khan, chair of the FTC, said in the press release. “Faithful and vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws is key to maintaining that success. With these draft Merger Guidelines, we are updating our enforcement manual to reflect the realities of how firms do business in the modern economy.”

The guidelines, which are open for comments from the public for 60 days, include instructions on how the agencies will review “multi-sided platform[s],” which many Big Tech mergers fall under. Reviewers must examine whether the merger would affect competition between the platforms, according to the guideline.

“When a merger involves a platform operator and platform participants, the Agencies carefully examine whether the merger would create conflicts of interest that would harm competition,” the 10th guideline reads. “A platform operator that is also a platform participant has a conflict of interest from the incentive to give its own products and services an advantage against other competitors participating on the platform, harming competition in the product market for that product or service.”

A California Northern District Court judge denied a motion from the FTC to block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of video game company Activision. The FTC unsuccessfully argued that certain video game titles owned by Activision could be made exclusive to Microsoft platforms and would be anti-competitive.

The 11th guideline of the draft corresponds with President Biden’s effort to curry favor with workers and unions. The guideline describes “labor markets” as “important buyer markets” and gives instructions to determine whether workers’ ability to sell their own labor will be significantly impacted by a merger.

“When a merger involves competing buyers, the Agencies examine whether it may substantially lessen competition for workers or other sellers,” the 11th guideline reads. “The same general concerns as in other markets apply to labor markets where employers are the buyers of labor and workers are the sellers. The Agencies will consider whether workers face a risk that the merger may substantially lessen competition for their labor.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The FTC referred the DCNF to the press release.

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