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FTC Nominee Pledges to Look Closely at Ag Mergers

FTC Nominee Pledges to Look Closely at Ag Mergers

The Federal Trade Commission would take a look at past merger deals to see if regulators were too easy on the companies involved. That’s the promise of Joseph Simons, the White House nominee for FTC Chairman.

Simons said during a Senate confirmation hearing, he would direct a formal study of closed deals, including some in the agriculture industry. He also said, if confirmed, he would police the conduct of big agribusinesses. He also pledges to sue if wrongdoing comes to the agency’s attention. U.S. agriculture has seen rapid consolidation in recent years, and U.S. regulators have mostly waved the deals through.

If the federal government takes a more aggressive stance based on any information gathered as a result of a merger study, it would mark a new era of antitrust policy under Republicans. Simons is the co-chair of the antitrust group at the law firm Paul Weiss, and a former FTC antitrust official during the George W. Bush administration.

There are more merger deals in the pipeline that will put antitrust regulators’ approach to the test. Bayer and Monsanto are still awaiting antitrust approval from the U.S.

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