News blog sample - U.S. Justice Department Cracks down on Antitrust, Blocking Four Mergers Under Biden
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, November 23rd to block U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar Company from merging, marking the fourth antitrust lawsuit brought on by the Justice Department under Biden. The Biden Administration is cracking down on federal antitrust law in an attempt to ensure a competitive market, and companies considering a merger or acquisition should do their due diligence and seek legal counsel before making any official plans.
“We will not hesitate to challenge anticompetitive mergers that would harm American consumers and businesses alike,” stated Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a press release on the merger. Read the press release in its entirety here. Conversely, according to U.S. Sugar in a statement on the lawsuit, acquisition will “increase production and distribution as well as providing a secure supply,” benefiting consumers in the long run. The company also stated its plans to fight the lawsuit. The DOJ has also recently blocked mergers between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster; American Airlines Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp.; and Aon PLC and its rival, Willis Towers Watson PLC.
In the case of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, the Department of Justice focused on the facets of this merger that would result in potentially lower advances being paid to authors, rather than a change in pricing for consumers. This signals a departure from decades of consumer-focused antitrust arguments to, more broadly, antitrust as it pertains to workers, suppliers, and competitors.
As Biden has taken a stance against big business during his administration, there will likely be an increase in these cases being brought to court. Companies will need to adequately prove they are not stifling competition or contributing to homogenized pricing and less variety for consumers. Opposers of antitrust laws state that the laws are murky, difficult to properly enforce, and rely on inaccurate perceptions of market changes.