The FTC is Coming to Knowledge Mosaic. (Could That Explain Why Its Official Seal Looks Like a Smiling Face?)
Users who care about corporate dealmaking should be especially pleased by our addition of the Federal Trade Commission, the agency once known as the “Bureau of Corporations.” As part of its stated mission to ensure fair trade and safeguard the consumer marketplace, the FTC keeps a close eye on mergers and acquisitions, even stepping in on occasion to block proposed deals. Below are three types of FTC documents to keep an eye out for:
- Early Termination Notices: Companies involved in certain types of business deals frequently request an “early termination” of the standard waiting period mandated by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act; these notices indicate whether the request has been granted (it usually is). Many of the potential deals disclosed here are nowhere to be found in the SEC Filings. A great archive of M&A activity.
- Annual Competition Enforcement Reports: Includes the Hart-Scott-Rodino Annual Report, a far-reaching review of the year in which “[t]he Commission and the Antitrust Division continue their efforts to protect competition by identifying and investigating those mergers and acquisitions that raise potentially significant competitive concerns.” Includes a lot of graphs and charts based on aggregate data (e.g., acquisitions broken down by industry), but is also a good source of specific business intelligence in its rundown of the year’s investigative or disciplinary actions against companies.
- Informal Staff Opinions: The FTC equivalent of SEC No Action Letters — though all identifying information for the company or law firm of record is typically redacted. A great archive of guidance on antitrust, merger, and competition issues. (The Formal Staff Opinions are much stuffier, much less interesting, and much less common.)