February 8, 2018

Antitrust: Is the Pace of M&A Investigations Picking Up?

We’ve previously blogged about the increasing length of antitrust merger investigations – and the DOJ’s recent efforts to pick up the pace.  According to this Dechert memo, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to the length of these investigations.  Here’s an excerpt:

Significant U.S. antitrust merger investigations resolved in 2017 took longer than ever recorded—an average of 10.8 months from announcement to agency action—according to DAMITT, the Dechert Antitrust Merger Investigation Timing Tracker. The duration grew despite the number of significant U.S. merger investigations falling to 27, the lowest level since 2013. Yet there were signs that the Trump administration might be reversing what has been a trend toward longer antitrust merger investigations in the United States. The average duration of the 10 significant merger U.S. investigations related to transactions announced after 2016’s Presidential election, but resolved in 2017, was only 7.3 months.

Here’s where the EU stands on the timing of merger investigations:

New DAMITT analysis of European Union data found that the duration of significant EU antitrust merger investigations resolved in 2017 also grew, while their number decreased to 21, the lowest level since 2014. EU merger investigations that went to Phase II took an average of 15.1 months from announcement to clearance, also the longest on record in DAMITT’s analysis. The average duration of investigations cleared with remedies in Phase I was 7.0 months. These average durations, calculated to include the time taken for pre-filing discussions, tell a radically different story from the theoretically fixed schedule of EU investigations.

The memo goes on to provide details on 2017 merger investigations, their resolution, and the impact of their duration on the terms of acquisition agreements.

John Jenkins