This year, both antitrust agencies have spoken about their desire to speed up the merger review process. In a recent speech, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Delrahim said, “[p]rovided that the parties expeditiously cooperate and comply throughout the entire process, we will aim to resolve most investigations within six months of filing.” Relatedly, the FTC has undertaken a study of its internal data to help pinpoint what is taking time in the merger review process and why delays are happening. These reforms are welcomed and may well be working to some extent, as one study shows the average length of significant merger review investigations was 9.8 months in Q3 2018, which is a month faster than 2017’s 10.8 month average.
Parties to transactions with potential antitrust risk should be aware of this general timeline when negotiating a deal’s drop dead date. Also, as preparation is key to a timely review, Goodwin’s Antitrust+Competition team regularly represents clients before the antitrust agencies in merger investigations and can help clients identify and gather the type of information the agencies will need to conduct their investigation even before the agencies come asking for it.