The Federal Trade Commission issued Special Orders to tech giants Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft to request information on mergers and acquisitions conducted since 2010. The FTC has made the requests “to provide information and documents on the terms, scope, structure, and purpose of transactions that each company consummated ” in the last decade.
The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, which became law in 1976, requires that certain mergers and transactions must be filed with the Department of Justice and the FTC for a determination as to their compliance with antitrust laws. The FTC’s request pertains to transactions that were not subject to the HSR Act requirements. The HSR Act is triggered based on the value of the transaction and the size of the involved parties. The information that the FTC requested through its Special Orders mirrors their would-be obligations under the HSR Act.
The end purpose of the FTC’s request was not immediately clear; however, the FTC made the request under its authority ” to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.
In a press release, FTC Chairman Joe Simons explained that “[d]igital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives…This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers.”
The FTC added that the information provided could educate them about the effect that transactions not subject to HSR Act filing requirements have on the economy.