But increase in antitrust review thresholds is the smallest inflation adjustment in years.
Another annual ritual is upon us: the Federal Trade Commission has announced the dollar value thresholds that will trigger automatic federal review of mergers and acquisitions for the next year or so. And it’s good news (sort of) for readers who keep Hart-Scott-Rodino checklists at the ready, because they won’t have to update much this year. That’s because the 2015 annual adjustment is the smallest we have seen in years – barely noticeable at one-half of one percent, well down from the annual 3%-7% leaps we had seen in recent years.
The FCC has the option of choosing to review, or not to review many, if not most, communications-related transactions in detail before issuing an approval. But under federal antitrust law, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission must review transactions that cross certain dollar amount thresholds. So if you’re considering a merger or acquisition, bear in mind that the administration will automatically be sending at least two agencies to take a closer look at transactions where either:
- the total value of the transaction exceeds $305,100,000; or
- the total value of the transaction exceeds $76.3 million and one party to the deal has total assets of at least $15.3 million (or, if a manufacturer, has $15.3 million in annual net sales) and the other party has net sales or total assets of at least $152.5 million
The new thresholds are set to take effect as of February 20, 2015.
Bear in mind, too, that the filing fees that parties to a deal have to pay the government for the pleasure of going through the review process have also been adjusted. (Fees are split between the FTC and the Department of Justice.) For most of 2015, parties to any deal subject to review and valued at less than $152.5 million will pay a $45,000 fee. For deals valued at more than $152.5 million but less than $762.7 million, the review fee will be $125,000. And if you’re proposing a deal valued at more than $762.7 million, get set to fork over a tidy $280,000.
When negotiating deals, all parties would be well-advised to bear these thresholds in mind. Once those lines are crossed, the prospect of additional (and considerable) time, expense and hassle to navigate the federal review process is a virtual certainty.