On May 21, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) released the Hart-Scott-Rodino Annual Report covering Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 (October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013). The report describes key merger enforcement actions over the past year and provides interesting data regarding the agencies’ antitrust enforcement activity.
Specifically, the report indicates that in FY 2013, 1,326 transactions were reported under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, representing an approximate 7 percent decline in reported transactions from FY 2012. The FTC was granted clearance to investigate 145 of these transactions, while the DOJ was granted clearance to investigate 72 transactions. Of the 145 transactions the FTC investigated in FY 2013, it only issued 25 second requests. In other words, the FTC only issued second requests in 17.2 percent of its investigations in FY 2013. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division, on the other hand, issued second requests in 22 of the 72 transactions it was granted clearance to investigate (i.e., 30.6 percent of its investigations).
However, of the FTC’s 25 second requests in FY 2013, it brought 23 merger enforcement actions. That is, the FTC brought enforcement actions in more than 90 percent of the transactions for which it issued a second request in FY 2013. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division brought only 15 merger enforcement actions in FY 2013, or just under 70 percent of the transactions for which it issued a second request (15 out of 22).
This information can be a helpful tool to assist clients in evaluating their chances before the merger enforcement agencies at various stages of the HSR notification process. While the FTC and DOJ together only investigated 217 transactions in FY 2013, most of those investigations were brought by the FTC. Furthermore, the agencies’ decisions to issue second requests made it increasingly likely that they would bring enforcement actions to block or unwind the transactions, particularly with respect to the FTC.