News Release: Merger Guidelines Put Private Equity Rollups Under Antitrust Enforcement Scrutiny


Dec. 18, 2023

William Pierre-Louis, Jr.

Merger Guidelines Put Private Equity Rollups Under Antitrust Enforcement Scrutiny

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice’s (DOJ) issued strong final merger review guidelines that are a crucial step towards addressing the surge in market consolidations largely fueled by private equity leveraged buyouts. 

“The new guidelines will start to address the anticompetitive effects of several common private equity strategies that have amassed consolidated market power–including widespread roll-ups via serial acquisitions, holding minority stakes in multiple companies, and wielding outsized buyer power in labor markets,” said Patrick Woodall, senior fellow at Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund

Private equity takeovers have become a major force behind the consolidation of the economy – they represent three-quarters of mergers reportable to antitrust regulators – and the new merger guidelines confront the corrosive impact these leveraged buyouts have on workers, consumers, and communities. AFR detailed these harms in its letter to the FTC and DOJ as the guidelines were being written, and antitrust authorities have taken up the issue in their public remarks as well.

“The robust  new merger review guidelines  will provide much-needed clarity and vision that address current economic realities and put private equity transactions under long-overdue antitrust scrutiny,” Woodall added

The FTC and DOJ’s final guidelines will prevent further economic consolidation from the private equity buyouts that have built monopolistic titans in the health care, retail, fast food, and other industries. Stronger merger guidelines set a roadmap for antitrust enforcement to take on the merger mania that has rewarded Wall Street and devastated Main Street. The antitrust enforcers are now acting to block excessively large and anticompetitive mergers — including a recent victory — but the Wall Street and private equity forces trying to further consolidate the economy will certainly push back against rigorous enforcement of these new guidelines.