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New Guidelines on Monopoly Power: A Legal Approach

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The Biden administration has recently introduced new and stricter guidelines to regulate monopoly power. However, officials are now addressing concerns that the document is politically motivated to deter companies from pursuing legal mergers and acquisitions.

According to Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, this document is not biased towards favoring certain companies over others. In an interview with CNBC, Kanter emphasized that extensive efforts were made to ensure that the guidelines were not driven by ideology, but rather grounded in legal rigor.

These updated guidelines come at a time when antitrust enforcers have experienced a series of setbacks. Just last week, a court ruling allowed Microsoft Corp.’s planned $69 billion acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc., a move that the Federal Trade Commission had sought to block.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission jointly issued these 13 proposed guidelines. The aim is to provide courts and companies with insights into how antitrust enforcers will approach the evaluation of deals. Before final adoption, the public will have a 60-day period for feedback.

Under the proposed guidelines, enforcers will focus on companies that engage in a series of acquisitions within the same market. This approach moves away from evaluating each deal as a potentially individual violation. Additionally, there will be a greater emphasis on assessing the impact of deals on workers, rather than solely considering customers.

While these guidelines do not carry the force of law, they will influence both current and future administrations’ decisions on which mergers to contest.

President Biden has positioned this proposal as part of his broader economic reform agenda, which emphasizes the importance of increased competition in lowering prices and raising wages. Biden is scheduled to meet with his Competition Council, which includes FTC Chair Lina Khan and Attorney General Merrick Garland, later today.

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