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FTC Clamps Down On Big Tech Acquisitions

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has presented information on the five biggest technology companies and the various small acquisitions they have made, the results of a years-long research project. It seems the FTC plans to crack down on such deals.

The FTC also scrapped its previous Trump-era guidelines on vertical mergers, also suggesting a crack down is imminent.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft made a combined 616 acquisitions from 2010 to 2019 that were above $1 million – deemed too small to be the subject of antitrust probes, but substantial enough as a mass to be considered anticompetitive.

Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter referred to serial acquisitions as a “Pac-Man strategy”.

“Each individual merger viewed independently may not seem to have significant impact. But the collective impact of hundreds of smaller acquisitions, can lead to a monopolistic behaviour,” she said.

The FTC sued Facebook last year, alleging its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were breaches of antitrust laws.

“The department’s review has already identified several aspects of the guidelines that deserve close scrutiny, and we will work closely with the FTC to update them as appropriate,” Richard Powers, acting head of the antitrust division, said in a statement.

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