Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Ronan Harty (Davis Polk) explains Federal Antitrust Enforcement Priorities Under the Obama Administration.
ABSTRACT: In this paper, Ronan P. Harty reviews the recent enforcement efforts of the principal United States antitrust regulators: the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The new leaders of these agencies under the Obama administration have been widely expected to enforce the U.S. antitrust laws more vigorously than under the Bush administration. In particular, it has been predicted that these agencies would more aggressively pursue single-firm conduct that potentially violates Section 2 of the Sherman Act, and that they would step up their review of mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Harty indicates that, while it is still relatively early in the Obama presidency, and while the evidence is not entirely uniform, there is growing support for these predictions. Over the past year, the federal antitrust regulators have initiated several high profile Section 2 investigations, proposed modifications to their Horizontal Merger Guidelines, and have challenged pending and completed mergers of various sizes, all while continuing to enforce Section 1 of the Sherman Act against cartels. Nevertheless, Mr. Harty explains that the challenges inherent in investigating and prosecuting Section 2 cases may limit the ultimate effectiveness of some of the increased federal enforcement efforts in that field.