On September 27, the FTC approved Coca-Cola Company’s $12.3 billion acquisition of the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., its largest North American bottler. When the agreement was announced, Coca-Cola already owned about 34 percent of Coca-Cola Enterprises. To resolve antitrust concerns raised by the acquisition, Coca-Cola agreed to restrict its access to confidential competitive business information of rival Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which also distributes Dr Pepper Snapple carbonated soft drinks.
On September 16, 2010, the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) and the Competition Commission (“CC”) published the final version of their new joint Merger Assessment Guidelines (“Guidelines”). The Guidelines expand and revise the previous guidance published separately by OFT and CC in various publications and attempt to clarify the 2002 Enterprise Act.
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") continues its emphasis on investigating and challenging small consummated transactions that were not initially reviewed. Corporate executives that enter into deals that raise competitive concerns must be aware that deals that appear to be done may not be. This is the case, even if the deal is not reportable under the Hart-Scott-Rodino rules.
On April 29, 2010, a panel of three judges at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals gave hope to the opponents of pay-for-delay settlements, when the Court’s decision invited plaintiffs-appellants of Arkansas Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund v. Bayer AG to petition for an en banc rehearing of the case. On September 7, 2010, however, the Court denied Appellants’ petition without providing any reasoning.
In the State of California v. Safeway, Inc. (“California v. Safeway”), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit answered the question of whether the non-statutory labor exemption excused a profit-sharing agreement that would ordinarily violate the antitrust laws. The Court found that the exemption did not excuse the agreement, because the functioning of the collective bargaining process did not require it. Instead, the agreement constituted “an economic weapon used by the employers in their efforts to prevail in a labor dispute.”