(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- The Federal Trade Commission made two moves on Wednesday that indicate they have plans to be tougher on mergers and acquisitions by large tech companies.
This week, staff at the FTC presented data on smaller acquisitions five large tech companies made in recent years. At the same time, the agency scrapped its guidelines on vertical mergers that combine one company with one of its suppliers.
The study in question was initiated under the Trump administration. It found that between 2010 and 2019, five large technology companies went through 616 total acquisitions of at least $1 million. At the same time, these acquisitions were too small to have to be reported to various anti-trust agencies.
The five big tech companies at the subject of the data are Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.
One commissioner of the FTC, Democrat Rebecca Slaughter, said that looking at each of the 616 individually was just not adequate enough. She said:
“I think of serial acquisitions as a Pac-Man strategy. Each individual merger viewed independently may not seem to have significant impact. But the collective impact of hundreds of smaller acquisitions, can lead to a monopolistic behavior.”
Another commissioner of the agency, Republican Christine Wilson, said she believes a similar study to this one conducted on big tech companies should be done on mergers in the health-care industry, too.
Last year, the FTC sued Facebook. In the suit, the agency alleged that the social media giant broke various anti-trust laws. The FTC has asked a judge to overturn Facebook’s two most well-known deals — one for messaging app WhatsApp and one for photosharing app Instagram.
Both of those deals were reviewed by the FTC, though.
In June, when Lina Khan, a progressive, became chair of the FTC, the agency began holding open meetings. They also withdrew guidelines regarding vertical merger deals that were instituted under former President Donald Trump. When that decision was made, Wilson and fellow Republican Noah Phillips were against that ruling.
In a statement, the Department of Justice also said it would review guidelines on both vertical mergers and horizontal deals — also known as mergers of two or more competitors.
In a statement, Richard Powers, who is the acting head of the DOJ’s anti-trust division, said:
“The department’s review has already identified several aspects of the guidelines that deserve close scrutiny, and we will work closely with the FTC to update them as appropriate.”
It is very rare for the FTC to try to stop vertical deals. Recently, though, the agency did ask a judge to block a deal that would see Illumina, a biotech company, purchase Grail. The two companies are hoping to market a blood test that would diagnose dozens of cancer types.
In addition to these rulings, the five FTC commissioners voted along party lines to approve a new policy statement that would require consumers to be notified any time there was an unauthorized use of health data.