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January 4, 2013

Earlier today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued a new report summarizing its reviews of horizontal mergers between 1996 and 2011 (see: Horizontal Merger Investigation Data: Fiscal Years 1996-2011).

Overview:

“To promote transparency in merger enforcement, Federal Trade Commission staff1 reviewed the horizontal merger investigations that the agency conducted during fiscal years 1996 through 2011 and compiled relevant data for public release.  The information presented in the attached tables has been extracted from staff memoranda written at the time of each investigation to advise the Commission regarding its enforcement decision.  The staff has tabulated certain market structure information along with the Commission’s decision whether or not to seek relief in the specific markets investigated.  In addition, for a subset of these investigations (those with three or fewer markets), the staff also tabulated the Commission’s enforcement decisions based on the presence or absence of ‘hot documents,’ ‘strong customer complaints,’ and ‘entry conditions’ as they were identified during the investigation.

The FTC issued HSR second requests in 464 merger investigations from fiscal years 1996 through 2011.  Market shares and concentration are most relevant when evaluating horizontal competitive effects, so staff has omitted from the data any transactions (or any individual markets) in which a challenge was based on non-horizontal theories of competitive concern such as vertical control or monopsony power.  Staff also excluded transactions where the concern was elimination of potential, rather than actual, competition, as well as those transactions where the competitive concern stemmed from influence obtained through partial, rather than majority, ownership.  Finally, the data review does not include investigations that were closed prior to the development of a complete record concerning market structure.”

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