The Federal Trade Commission announced the move this week, issuing orders to Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. Hundreds of takeovers of smaller companies are involved.
FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said that as a result of the review, the government may require tech giants to unwind earlier acquisitions and divest their assets if it found violations of antitrust law.
“All of our options are on the table,” Simons said in a conference call with reporters. “If there are some transactions that are problematic, then we have that opportunity and that ability to go back and challenge” them.
Short of requiring divesting pieces of companies, other options could include putting assets into a separate company unit or mandating changes in how the companies conduct business, Simons said.
The focus of the review is on acquisitions with a smaller value, about $100 million or less, that didn’t trigger government reporting requirements for the companies. But Simons said the regulators are interested in tech industry mergers of all sizes. The FTC staff also will look into whether companies may have manipulated the value of some acquisitions to evade the reporting requirements, he said.
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February 15, 2020