Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and conduct a retrospective analysis of the controversial 2018 merger between Energizer and Spectrum Brands.
After the 2018 merger, Energizer has risen to dominate the battery market, increasing prices and announcing plans to close two factories in Fennimore and Portage, Wisconsin, leaving hundreds of union workers in the state without employment.
The FTC cleared the merger between Energizer and Spectrum without any conditions, thus allowing Energizer to obtain a stronghold in the United States’ battery market (approximately 40%), the world hearing aid battery market (60%) and the total battery market (85%).
In January, Energizer reached the decision to close their factories in Portage and Fenimore. This closure includes offshoring of Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, and transferring other job opportunities to states where worker protections and labor laws are weaker.
Following Senator Baldwin’s demand for an explanation as to why the 2018 merger between Energizer and Spectrum Brands went ahead with such limited scrutiny, the FTC and the Department of Justice recently released new draft Merger Guidelines. These Guidelines are poised to strengthen the agencies’ review of mergers and acquisitions to any potential competition harm that could arise.
These developments have attracted concern from leaders in Wisconsin, particularly Teamsters General President, Sean M. O’Brien, who declared; “Demand the corporations that are hiking prices for customers while shipping jobs overseas be held accountable. Energizer is a greedy corporation engaged in the destruction of middle-class communities and obvious anti-competitive behavior. To stand by and do nothing while this goes on is pure cowardice.”
A review of the Energizer/Spectrum Brands merger may provide insight into the potential anti-competitive behavior of Energizer and the significant impact their business practices have had on Wisconsin workers. The results of the FTC’s investigation may help hold corporations accountable for their actions and prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Related: Wis Politics