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Oct. 26, 2021, 8:21 a.m. EDT

FTC to restrict future deals that pursue ‘anticompetitive mergers’

By Jon Swartz

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday said it is restoring its long-established practice of routinely restricting future acquisitions for companies that pursue “anticompetitive mergers.” 

A policy statement “puts industry on notice that the FTC’s merger enforcement orders will once again require acquisitive firms to obtain prior approval from the agency before closing  any  future transaction affecting each relevant market for which a violation was alleged,” the FTC said. 

The is widely being interpreted as a slap at Facebook Inc. (NAS:FB) , whom the FTC sued last year over its billion-dollar acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp .

Facebook declined comment.

Last month, the agency said it would expand the scope of its information requests in merger reviews and give greater scrutiny to deals between parties that are not horizontal competitors in the same line of commerce or have relatively small market shares.

The policy changes are the latest actions by the Biden administration to more forcefully pursue antitrust enforcement, particularly against Big Tech, and the continuation of a transformation of FTC practices under new Chair Lina Khan.

Facebook shares are up 1% in late-afternoon trading Monday.

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.