Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) raised concerns about Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) proposed acquisition of Black Knight in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Waters, a Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, cited her apprehension towards the effects of market consolidation, potential impact on homeownership, and the racial wealth gap. The letter also included recommendations related to community benefits, antitrust protections, and financial stability for the FTC to consider.
This agreement follows ICE and Black Knight’s announcement late Aug. 25 concluding an agreement with the FTC that clears the way for the completion of their $11.7 billion buyout of Black Knight. The deal has been held up due to concerns from the FTC that the merged company would possess too much of the U.S. mortgage technology market.
“As our nation continues to grapple with crisis-level housing affordability and supply issues, it is vital that the federal government does not create conditions that exacerbate these challenges,” said Ranking Member Waters in a statement.
Black Knight dominates the market for processing home loans, with two-thirds of all first mortgage loans in the U.S. processed through its system. To address the FTC’s antitrust concerns, the companies previously agreed to sell Black Knight’s loan origination technology business, Empower, and data subsidiary, Optimal Blue, to Constellation Software Inc. Upon acceptance of the ACCO, the companies anticipate completing the merger on September 5, 2023, and completing the divestitures of Empower and Optimal Blue within 20 days thereafter. Black Knight also set a deadline of September 1 for its stockholders to decide if they want to receive cash or ICE stock in exchange for their shares, as part of the merger agreement.
“ICE is pleased that the FTC has accepted its remedy package and resolved this process, clearing the way for ICE to close its proposed acquisition of Black Knight without further delay and begin the process of integrating these leading companies that together will support a better experience for all those engaged in the mortgage finance process,” said ICE Media Contact, Josh King and Damon Leavell.
Katia Gonzalez, ICE Investor Contact has also stated, “We look forward to the close of the transaction on September 5, 2023, and integration of the two companies to create data-driven solutions that will help to reduce costs, increase access and promote innovation in the mortgage industry.”
Similarly, Michelle Kersch, Black Knight Media Contact shared in her statement that, “We are grateful to have reached a resolution with the FTC that allows for the closing of the acquisition to proceed uninterrupted and for both companies to focus on their integration. We are excited to join the ICE family and for our customers to experience greater choice and expanded capabilities to support their business.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters’s letter to the FTC with its concerns and recommendations brings a critical perspective to the merger agreement to acquire Black Knight by ICE. In addition to the demand for community benefits, antitrust protections, and financial stability, the deal is as important to her constituents as it is for those who partake in the housing industry. It will be interesting to watch the FTC’s response to her recommendations, and the consequences of this merger agreement in a market where many face affordability and supply issues.
Source: Them Report