Thursday 7 May 2020

The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act to be Introduced in US Congress

U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Warren will introduce the “Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act” (Act.)  The Act would apparently halt some mergers and acquisitions during a time when many small and medium sized companies may be struggling financially.  Many commentators have already asserted that too many anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions have been approved by regulators.  The fear is that some large companies may try to take advantage of the crisis.  

Some mergers and acquisitions may result in increased innovation.  Interestingly, one provision appears to target companies with a patent relating to the COVID-19 issue.  A merger or acquisition could be necessary for commercialization.  The Press Release for the Act states, in part:

The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would: 

  • Impose a moratorium on risky mergers and acquisitions until the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously determines that small businesses, workers, and consumers are no longer under severe financial distress. The moratorium includes all mergers and acquisitions that involve:

o    Companies with over $100 million in revenue or financial institutions with over $100 million in market capitalization;

o    Private equity companies, hedge funds, or companies that are majority-owned by a private equity company or hedge fund;

o    Companies with an exclusive patent that impacts the crisis, like personal protective equipment; and

o    Transactions that must otherwise be reported to the FTC under current law.

  • Pause all waiting periods and deadlines imposed on antitrust agencies during the moratorium.

  • Direct the FTC to engage in rulemaking to establish a legal presumption against mergers and acquisitions that pose a risk to the government's ability to respond to a national emergency. 

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