The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently investigating all non-reportable acquisitions by Alphabet (including Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft over the past decade (from January 1, 2010, to December 31 2019), according to a statement from the agency.
The top five tech firms were chosen by the FTC as part of the review to delve deeper into some of the transactions that were not reported to the agency. It is believed that there is no minimum threshold for transaction prices in review.
Under the Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (HSR), companies are not required to report some acquisitions to the FTC or the Department of Justice. However, since the five companies in question are amongst the largest in the US economy, this comes as a bit of a surprise.
According to an article from Marketing Dive, FTC chairman Joe Simons explained during a conference call that the reason behind the investigation was to know why some of the transactions by these firms were not reported and whether they were “problematic” initially. The agency is expected to review hundreds of transactions, according to the agency.
The investigation itself will be broad, including reviewing data obtained, licensing and the ability of a business to approach or make an appointment on another organisation’s board. There’s been no deadline set as to how long the investigation will last but according to Simons, the process will “move very quickly”.
“Digital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives,” commented Simons; “This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers.”