October Antitrust Bulletin

October 20, 2011

DOJ Announces Plans to Close Four Antitrust Division Field Offices

On Oct. 5, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced cost-cutting measures to streamline operations and reduce spending, including a proposal to close the Antitrust Division field offices in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia, and reassign 94 positions and the cases currently staffed by those offices to the remaining field offices in Chicago, New York and San Francisco field and to the National Criminal Enforcement Section in Washington, D.C. It is expected that the consolidation would result in savings of nearly $8 million. The proposed plan must be approved by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

Canadian Competition Bureau Releases Final Merger Enforcement Guidelines

On Oct. 6, 2011, the Canadian Competition Bureau issued the final version of its Merger Enforcement Guidelines. The guidelines describe generally how the Bureau analyzes merger transactions, and more closely track the Horrizontal Merger Guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission in 2010. Like the U.S. guidelines, the Canadian guidelines de-emphasize the role of market definition in merger analysis, focusing more on potential competitive effects. The new guidelines address both horizontal and non-horizontal (vertical and conglomerate) mergers, define what constitutes a “significant interest” under the Canadian Competition Act, and address how the Bureau will consider interlocking directorates and minority interests in merger reviews.

Antitrust Enforcers Issue Revised Best Practices for Transatlantic Mergers

On Oct. 14, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and European Commission commemorated the 20th anniversary of the United States-European Union bilateral antitrust agreement, and issued a revised best practices for coordinating merger reviews. The best practices, originally issued in 2002, provide an advisory framework for interagency cooperation during merger review, and are intended to minimize the risk of divergent outcomes, enhance the efficiency of merger investigations, and reduce burdens on the merging parties. The revised best practices emphasize greater coordination among the agencies at key stages of their investigations, including consideration of potential remedies to preserve competition, and provide more guidance to firms about how to work with the agencies to coordinate and facilitate the reviews of their proposed transactions.

EC Requires Strict Compliance by Leniency Applicants

A recent judgment by the European Union’s General Court—affirming a decision to fine a leniency applicant that violated the duty of confidentiality owed to the European Commission (EC)—serves as a reminder of the strict duties of leniency applicants to comply with the EC’s rules on cooperation and secrecy during the course of an investigation. The case involved Italian tobacco processor, Deltafina, which—after making its leniency application and before dawn raids had been carried out—revealed to its main competitors at a trade association meeting that it had sought leniency. Additional information is available in our October 2011 EU/UK Competition Law Newsletter.

For more information, please contact the lawyers in the Antitrust & Trade Regulation Department at McGuireWoods.