On May 13, 2016, the FTC approved a merger American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc. and Airgas, Inc. as long as the parties divest certain production and distribution assets to settle the FTC’s allegations that their proposed merger likely would have harmed competition and led to higher prices in several U.S. and regional markets.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the deal would eliminate direct competition between the two companies in certain markets that are already concentrated, increasing the likelihood that Air Liquide could unilaterally exercise market power. The FTC’s complaint also alleged that the proposed acquisition would also make it more likely that remaining competitors, if any, could collude or coordinate their actions. The FTC also alleged that entry was not likely happen quick enough to sufficiently counteract any anticompetitive price increases. As a result, customers would likely pay higher prices for industrial gases in various regional and national markets within the United States.