FTC Presents Findings From Small Tech Merger Study

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On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presented its data on small acquisitions by five big technology companies.

After a study that began during the Trump administration, the FTC concluded that Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft collectively had 616 acquisitions between 2010 and 2019 that exceeded $1 million, but were still relatively small to attract attention of antitrust agencies.

Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, a Democrat, said that considering stand-alone deals was not enough. “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 monopolistic behavior,” she said.

Commissioner Christine Wilson, a Republican, wanted to initiate a similar study on healthcare mergers.

The FTC very rarely tries to stop vertical deals but recently asked a judge to stop biotechnology company Illumina’s deal to buy Grail. The companies seek to market a blood test to diagnose dozens of types of cancer.

The Justice Department released a statement saying it was examining vertical merger policies as well as policies on horizontal transactions or mergers of competitors.

The five commissioners voted along party lines in support of a declaration of principle on a rule requiring consumers to be informed of any unauthorized use of health data and approved a procedure for accepting input on possible rules.

The FTC sued Facebook in 2020, claiming the social media company violated antitrust law by asking a judge to void Facebook’s deals with the photo-sharing app Instagram and the messaging app WhatsApp, even though both are being reviewed by the agency.

For more information, read the original story in Reuters.

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