US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Issue New Vertical Merger Guidelines


The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ” or “Department”) issued on June 30 the new Vertical Merger Guidelines that outline how the federal antitrust agencies evaluate the likely competitive impact of vertical mergers and whether those mergers comply with U.S. antitrust law. These new Vertical Merger Guidelines mark the first time the Department and the FTC have issued joint guidelines on vertical mergers, and represent the first major revision to guidance on vertical mergers since the Department’s 1984 Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines, which the Department withdrew in January of this year.


“These new Vertical Merger Guidelines are an important step forward in maintaining vigorous antitrust enforcement, and reaffirm our commitment to challenge vertical mergers that are anticompetitive and would harm American consumers,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “The new Guidelines reflect our current enforcement approach and, through increased transparency, will help businesses and practitioners understand how we evaluate vertical transactions. The new Guidelines also reflect our strong collaboration with the Department of Justice, and the substantial input that we received from the public.”


:These new Vertical Merger Guidelines provide transparency in the important area of vertical merger analysis,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “They explain our investigative practices as we apply them today and have applied them in recent years.  The Guidelines will give greater predictability and clarity to the business community, the bar, and enforcers. I am grateful for the commitment, thoroughness, and dedication with which staff from both agencies worked on this project. This has been a successful process because of our robust public engagement and our excellent collaborative relationship with the FTC.”


The intended purpose of the new 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines is:

·        Improve the transparency of institutional analysis processes and implementation decisions to benefit the business community and antitrust practitioners

·         Helped the court to develop a framework for applying antitrust laws to vertical mergers