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Private sector lawyers often gripe about their government adversaries, but these days the antitrust bar is singing the praises of the Federal Trade Commission. The reason: The agency is cutting back on the number of documents companies are required to hand over to the FTC in the second request phase of merger review — a process businesses have long criticized as costly and overly burdensome. The move has been spearheaded by Deborah Majoras, chair of the FTC, who knows a thing or two about shepherding merger reviews from her time as a partner at Jones Day. The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is expected to follow suit. Under the new guidelines, the agency will search no more than 35 company officials’ documents. (It was not unheard of for the agency to look at 50 to 100 before.) And it will limit a secondary probe to two years instead of three or four, so long as the businesses meet certain reporting requirements upfront. “These are meaningful steps,” says William Baer, Arnold & Porter’s antitrust chair and a former director of the Bureau of Competition at the FTC. “The challenge is basically making sure that the staff are committed to implementing reforms.” But attorneys may be in for something of a letdown, as the decreased workload may mean somewhat thinner checks from their corporate clients.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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