Agencies' Halt Of Early Merger OKs May Signal Policy Shift

By Bryan Koenig and Matthew Perlman (February 9, 2021, 10:34 AM EST) -- In the short term, the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission last week to suspend early permission slips for apparently innocuous mergers will be a headache for delicate deals, but long-term, antitrust professionals say it could signal a broader rethink of American competition policy.

The agencies called it a "temporary suspension" of the heavily used program, which grants so-called early terminations of the statutory 30-day waiting period required for most mergers. Early terminations are typically granted, upon request of the merging parties, to deals that pose no apparent competition concerns.

But the FTC's two Republicans,...

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