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1) Aug 4 -- The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division are extending by 30 days the deadline for the public to submit comments on proposed changes to the premerger notification form and associated instructions, as well as the premerger notification rules implementing the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act. With the extension, the agencies will now be accepting comments on the proposed changes until September 27, 2023. The original deadline to submit comments was August 28.


Aug 10 FRN https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-17143 For the NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2023 (88 FR 42178), the comment deadline is extended from August 28, 2023, to September 27, 2023.

2) June 27 press release -- FTC and DOJ Propose Changes to HSR Form for More Effective, Efficient Merger Review: New form will implement congressional requirements and modernize information collection

The Federal Trade Commission, with the concurrence of the Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, is proposing changes to the premerger notification form and associated instructions, as well as the premerger notification rules implementing the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act.

The HSR Act and its implementing rules require the parties to certain mergers and acquisitions to submit premerger notification to the FTC and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (the Agencies), which involves completing HSR Forms, and to wait a specified period of time before consummating their transaction.

The proposed changes to the HSR Form and instructions would enable the Agencies to more effectively and efficiently screen transactions for potential competition issues within the initial waiting period, which is typically 30 days. This initial competition review is critical for the agencies to identify transactions that require an in-depth investigation. During an in-depth investigation, the agencies determine whether the proposed transaction would violate the antitrust laws and, if so, to seek to block the proposed transaction and prevent harm to the American public.

Key proposals include:

-- Provision of details about transaction rationale and details surrounding investment vehicles or corporate relationships.
-- Provision of information related to products or services in both horizontal products and services, and non-horizontal business relationships such as supply agreements.
-- Provision of projected revenue streams, transactional analyses and internal documents describing market conditions, and structure of entities involved such as private equity investments.
-- Provision of details regarding previous acquisitions.
-- Disclosure of information that screens for labor market issues by classifying employees based on current Standard Occupational Classification system categories.

These proposed changes also address Congressional concerns that subsidies from foreign entities of concern can distort the competitive process or otherwise change the business strategies of a subsidized firm in ways that undermine competition following an acquisition. Under the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, the agencies are required to collect information on subsidies received from certain foreign governments or entities that are strategic or economic threats to the United States.

3) June 29 FRN -- Pursuant to Section 7A(d) of the Clayton Act, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) is proposing amendments to the premerger notification rules (“the Rules”) that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (“the Act” or “HSR”) and to the Premerger Notification and Report Form (the “Form”) and Instructions (“Instructions”). . . . Comments must be received on or before August 28, 2023.

The Act and Rules currently require the parties to certain mergers and acquisitions to submit premerger notification filings (“HSR Filings”) to the Commission and to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (“the Assistant Attorney General”) (collectively, “the Agencies”), and to wait a short period of time before consummating such transactions. The reporting and waiting period requirements are intended to enable the Agencies to determine whether a proposed merger or acquisition may violate the antitrust laws, including Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18, if consummated and, when appropriate, to seek an injunction in federal court in order to enjoin anticompetitive acquisitions prior to consummation.

Section 7A(d)(1) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18a(d)(1), directs the Commission, with the concurrence of the Assistant Attorney General, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553, to require that premerger notification be in such form and contain such information and documentary material as may be necessary and appropriate to determine whether the proposed transaction may, if consummated, violate the antitrust laws. In addition, Section 7A(d)(2) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18a(d)(2), grants the Commission, with the concurrence of the Assistant Attorney General, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553, the authority to define the terms used in the Act, exempt classes of transactions that are not likely to violate the antitrust laws, and prescribe such other rules as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes of Section 7A.

In this notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”), the Commission proposes amending the Rules (Part 801 and Part 803 and its appendices), the Form, and the Instructions to reorganize the information currently required with an HSR Filing and to require additional information critical to the Agencies' initial review. . . .

The premerger notification program is designed to provide the Commission and the Assistant Attorney General with the information and documentary material necessary and appropriate for an initial evaluation of the potential anticompetitive impact of transactions. The HSR premerger notification program is an essential tool for effective and efficient merger enforcement because it enables the Agencies to investigate acquisitions that may substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act and to challenge them before they are consummated and the businesses of the two companies are “scrambled” or integrated such that effective post-merger relief is much more difficult. . . .

The HSR Act and Rules specify that transactions subject to the HSR Act cannot be consummated until 30 days for most transactions (cash tender offers and certain types of bankruptcies observe a 15-day waiting period) after the parties submit an HSR Filing to the Agencies. These statutory deadlines for conducting an initial review are extraordinarily short, and the Agencies must work quickly to determine whether to take steps to prevent the consummation of potentially anticompetitive transactions. . . .

Given the large number of HSR Filings submitted each year, the Agencies must use their resources efficiently and effectively to focus primarily on transactions that may harm competition. Information submitted as part of the HSR premerger notification process is a key starting point, and the information contained in the HSR Filing should be sufficient to allow the Agencies to conduct a thorough but quick evaluation of whether the proposed transaction is one that requires more in-depth investigation through the issuance of Second Requests.

However, after a comprehensive review of the premerger notification process and based on the Agencies' experience conducting in-depth investigations of challenged mergers, the Commission believes that the information currently reported in an HSR Filing is insufficient. . . .

In addition, the very nature of HSR-reportable transactions has become more complex over time. . . .

Consistent with this concern, the Commission's NPRM also proposes changes to implement the collection of information about certain subsidies, as mandated by the 2022 Amendments. . . .

Another factor that has an impact on the complexity of premerger review is that consistent with the law and binding judicial precedent, the Agencies have stepped up efforts to review transactions for all their potential competitive impacts. The Agencies are responding to evidence that the U.S. economy is becoming increasingly concentrated overall. . . .

Each year, many of the transactions that are investigated by the Agencies are also investigated by another jurisdiction under their laws and procedures and this adds to the complexity of premerger review. Moreover, the Agencies' experience gained while cooperating with international competition agencies that are conducting their own merger investigation reveals that better information can help address the increased complexity of premerger review and improve its efficiency. . . .

For all these reasons, the Commission believes that the information currently collected by the Form is insufficient for the Agencies to conduct an effective and efficient initial evaluation of a transaction's likely competitive impact on all of those who might be affected, including consumers, small businesses, and workers. . . .

The Commission anticipates that the proposed reorganization and collection of additional information in HSR Filings would greatly enhance the Agencies' ability to complete the review of a reportable transaction in a short period of time, and that they are necessary and appropriate in order for the Agencies to vigorously enforce the nation's antitrust laws. The changes would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Agencies' initial review process and reduce the need to rely on the voluntary submission of additional information by the parties and third-party industry sources during the initial waiting period.

Finally, the Commission notes that since the implementation of the Act and Rules in the late 1970s, there has never been a large-scale reorganization of the information required in an HSR Filing. As a result, the Commission is proposing a comprehensive redesign of the premerger notification process through both a reorganization of the information currently required and the addition of new information requirements. As the Agencies are currently working to complete an electronic filing (“e-filing”) platform, the exact structure of the redesign is unclear at this time. The Commission believes that the development and roll-out of an e-filing platform will mark a significant improvement in the submission and processing of HSR Filings, with benefits for both filers and the Agencies. Thus, in this NPRM, the Commission is providing an overview of the proposed reorganization of the information currently required and the proposed new information requirements. The exact form of the redesign and how filers will submit this information will be more clearly laid out in any Final Rule after the Commission reviews all comments to this NPRM.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-13511 [41 pages]
FTC submission to OMB for clearance of new forms: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202306-3084-001

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