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US: House antitrust chair suggests halting major tech mergers until after probes end

 |  November 14, 2019

According to Politico, the House lawmaker leading a sweeping investigation into tech competition on Wednesday, November 13, floated the prospect of preventing major Silicon Valley firms from making acquisitions until the federal government’s top two antitrust enforcers are finished with their own probes into the sector.

Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the House antitrust subcommittee spearheading a congressional review of possible anti-competitive conduct in tech, at a hearing pressed Justice Department antitrust chief Makan Delrahim and Federal Trade Commission Chairman (FTC) Joe Simons on whether they’d support a “merger moratorium for dominant platforms” while they investigate industry giants.

Cicilline on Wednesday suggested any big tech deals that can’t be immediately shown to promote competition could be put on hold. “In this context where there is significant harm being imposed upon consumers, it seems like something worth considering,” he said. 

Delrahim, whose department announced a broad investigation into the online marketplace that has in part targeted Google, expressed openness to the idea, though he suggested that “a lot that can be done short of a merger moratorium.” 

“I don’t have a clear administration position on that, but we’d be delighted to explore that with you,” he told Cicilline. 

Simons, meanwhile, said the FTC is already reviewing consummated tech mergers as part of its own enforcement efforts, but did not comment on the prospects of a moratorium.

Full Content: Politico

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