Thursday, May 14, 2009

DEALWATCH: Dealing With The New DOJ May 13, 2009

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The new emphasis on antitrust enforcement by President Barack Obama's administration is a sharp reversal of the Bush-era free-market philosophy.
...Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney stirred a hornet's nest of sorts by saying "the recent developments in the marketplace should make it clear that we can no longer rely upon the marketplace alone to ensure that competition and consumers will be protected."...However, there's no doubt that some Bush-era deals would have faced much tougher scrutiny if they had arrived in Varney's inbox...The $1.8 billion Maytag-Whirlpool merger in 2005, a combination that resulted in up to 70% market share in large appliances in the U.S., is one case in point....the Bush administration's weak grip on antitrust issues...Antitrust rules are likely to better align with European Union regulations, which would lead to more certainty for those involved in the process, says Janet McDavid, partner at Hogan & Hartson. In Europe, the impact on the customer has always been paramount.