The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have announced that they will hold a series of workshops to solicit public comment in connection with their review of the Horizontal Merger Guidelines. This review could lead to the first major revision of the Guidelines in 17 years. The DOJ and the FTC created the Guidelines in 1968 to provide a transparent analytical framework for conducting antitrust reviews of mergers and acquisitions. The Guidelines have gone through multiple revisions since that time, the last in 1992. The agencies plan to solicit public comment at workshops to be held in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., in December 2009 and January 2010.

Christine Varney, head of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, explained that the review was appropriate in light of the legal and economic developments in the United States over the last 17 years. According to Varney, “Having guidelines that offer more clarity and better reflect agency practice provides for enhanced transparency and gives businesses greater certainty when making merger decisions, resulting in a more competitive marketplace that benefits consumers.” Furthermore, the FTC has posted questions on its website designed to promote discussions of the current guidelines and what revisions may be necessary. The agencies are seeking comments from attorneys, academics, economists, consumer groups and any other interested parties.

Click here to read the press release from the Department of Justice.