The Democrats behind the idea include Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who say mergers could lead to further job losses and price increases for a populace reeling from the virus’s effects.
Ocasio-Cortez and Warren introduced the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act on April 28, which would put a moratorium on mergers involving companies with over $100 million in revenue or financial institutions (FIs) with more than that in market capitalization.
Republicans on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, in a letter addressed to antitrust enforcers with the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, say the opposite, arguing that lawful mergers should be allowed to go forward no matter what.
“A broad ban on M&A activity would deny American entrepreneurs and companies the managerial expertise that comes with strategic partnerships, expertise that will enhance recovery and help avoid business failures and an onslaught of bankruptcy filings,” the letter, led by the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, said.
The letter was spearheaded by Jordan and co-signed by Reps. Ken Buck, Matt Gaetz, Kelly Armstrong and Gregory Steube.
It was addressed to Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Competition Director Ian Conner. Delrahim, speaking with CNBC, said the idea of a moratorium on mergers was “misguided.”
On Thursday (May 14), PYMNTS will be holding a roundtable on the status of M&A during the pandemic. Hosted by CEO Karen Webster, the panel will ask questions about whether or not merger policy should change, how that should happen if so, whether to loosen the grip of antitrust laws on big tech or make them stricter, and how the decisions made will affect innovation, entrepreneurs and startups.
Those interested can sign up online.
Even before the pandemic, antitrust issues were hitting big businesses. But the pandemic’s effects on the economy could make the status of M&A a question mark in the foreseeable future.