On March 30, the FTC approved a petition for proposed divestiture from Thermo Electron Corporation (“Thermo”). Under the consent agreement and order with the FTC regarding Thermo’s proposed acquisition of Fisher Scientific International, Inc., the respondent was required to divest the high-performance centrifugal vacuum evaporators (“CVE”s) assets, to a Commission-approved buyer. In its petition, Thermo requested FTC approval to divest the CVE assets to Riverlake Equity Partners, L.P. and, in part owing to the acquisition of certain indirect ownership interests, to MVC Capital, Inc. By a vote of 5-0, the Commission approved the proposed divestiture.
On March 16, following a public comment period, the FTC approved the issuance of a final consent order in the matter concerning the acquisition of interests in Kinder Morgan, Inc by TC Group LLC (The Carlyle Group) et al. The Commission vote was 3-1, with Commissioner Jon Leibowitz voting no and Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch recused.
On March 15, the FTC approved a complaint challenging Equitable Resources, Inc.’s (“Equitable”) proposed acquisition of The Peoples Natural Gas Company (“Dominion Peoples”), a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, Inc., on the basis that the merger would create a monopoly in the sale of natural gas in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The complaint alleged that Equitable and Dominion Peoples are each other’s sole competitors in the distribution of natural gas to nonresidential customers in certain areas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh. It also alleged that the proposed transaction would result in a monopoly for many customers in the Pittsburgh area resulting in higher prices. The transaction that includes Equitable’s purchase of Hope Gas, Inc., another subsidiary of Dominion, is valued at $970 million. The complaint did not challenge the acquisition of Hope Gas, Inc.
On March 13, the DOJ announced that a federal grand jury in Denver indicted B&H Maintenance & Construction Inc. (“B&H”) a Eunice, New Mexico based construction company and two of its executives, Jon Paul Smith, vice president and regional manager; and Landon R. Martin, manager of marketing and business development, for participating in a bid-rigging conspiracy involving natural gas pipeline construction projects in Colorado.
On March 12, the FTC received a petition from Service Corporation International (“SCI”) and Alderwoods Group, Inc. seeking approval of a proposed divestiture related to SCI’s recent acquisition of Alderwoods. In the FTC’s consent agreement and order SCI and Alderwoods were required to divest a range of funeral home and cemetery services companies. Through this petition the companies requested approval to divest Universal Chung Wah Funeral Directors of Alhambra, California (the funeral home to be divested), to New Universal Chung Wah, LLC, and Universal Chung Wah Funeral Directors, Inc. (collectively “Universal”), which are entities owned by employees of the funeral home to be divested. The FTC sought public comments on the proposed divestiture for 30 days, until April 11, 2007, after which it decided to approve it.
On March 12, Kmart Corporation agreed to settle FTC’s charges that it engaged in deceptive practices in advertising and selling its Kmart gift card. Kmart will implement a refund program and publicize it on its Web site. This is the agency’s first law enforcement action involving gift cards.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Kmart promoted the card as equivalent to cash but failed to disclose that fees are assessed after two years of non-use, and misrepresented that the card would never expire. Kmart has agreed to disclose the fees prominently in future advertising and on the front of the gift card.
On March 9, the FTC approved an application for a proposed divestiture from Linde AG and The BOC Group plc concerning an August 29, 2006, FTC consent order regarding the acquisition of BOC by Linde. Under the terms of the order, the parties were required, among other things, to divest the relevant “Atmospheric Gases Assets” to a single buyer approved by the FTC. Through the application, the parties requested FTC approval to divest these assets to Airgas, Inc., a Delaware corporation. The application was approved with a vote of 5-0.
FTC Receives Supplemental Petition for Approval of Proposed Divestiture from SCI and Alderwoods Group
On March 6, the FTC received a supplemental petition from Service Corporation International (“SCI”) and Alderwoods Group, Inc. seeking approval of a proposed divestiture related to SCI’s recent acquisition of Alderwoods. The FTC’s agreement and order required SCI and Alderwoods to divest a range of funeral home and cemetery services companies in order to guarantee competition and quality of service. Through this petition, the companies requested approval to divest Parnick Jennings Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Cartersville, Georgia, to Pinnacle Funeral Services, LLC. This petition supplements a petition submitted to the Commission earlier this year by substituting Pinnacle for Rollings Funeral Services, Inc. Pinnacle is a collaboration between Vinyard Financing, LLC, and Greg Rollings, who founded and owns Rollings and will serve as president of Pinnacle.