Sen. Lee Questions FTC on Merger Mismanagement

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) today sent a letter to Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter regarding recent developments in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) handling of merger enforcement. The Senator expressed concerns about the agency’s handling of 7-Eleven’s recent acquisition of Speedway, as well as the FTC’s February decision to suspend granting early termination under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) Act. Under the Act, parties to certain mergers and acquisitions must submit premerger notification filings known as HSR filings, and wait up to 30 days before consummating the transaction.

The letter reads in part:

“I was alarmed to read the public statements from you and Commissioner Chopra, Commissioners Phillips and Wilson, and from 7-Eleven regarding 7-Eleven’s acquisition of Speedway. Despite the fact that all four FTC commissioners agree that the acquisition presents serious competitive concerns—and the merging parties’ and FTC staff’s extensive efforts to resolve those concerns—the Commission took no action to prevent or remedy the harm to consumers.”

The letter continues:

“… it is an appalling abuse of regulatory discretion to require businesses to wait out the entire 30-day period for no benefit to either competition or consumers. The blanket refusal to grant early termination in any instance is nothing more than a tax on American entrepreneurs trying to fuel our economic recovery.”

“I hope you give both of these concerns thoughtful consideration. I will be asking Sen. Klobuchar to request nonpublic briefings from FTC staff on each of these issues so that we can get to the bottom of these troubling developments. Consumers deserve better, and Congress must make sure they get it.”

The full text of the letter and online version of this release can be found here.