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In February, FTC chairman Deborah Majoras unveiled a new plan aimed at reducing the amount of information that merging parties must turn over in response to a second request. Companies will now be asked to submit files for no more than 35 employees, and documents no more than two years old. The Justice Department didn’t sign on to the FTC plan, but is working on simplified second-request rules of its own. Both agencies linked hands in March to issue commentary on their 14-year-old Horizontal Merger Guidelines. The new material consists largely of case studies of deals from the past decade, including explanations of regulators’ decisions. Majoras recently discussed the reforms with Bill McConnell, Washington bureau chief of The Deal, a related publication of Corporate Counsel. It didn’t come out nearly clean enough to make those kinds of generalizations. Every case is different, and every company is different in the way they keep documents. But let’s face it, there are not many merger cases to take to court. Today we have a very good merger bar, and most clients are very well counseled. Many mergers get killed in corporate offices because lawyers explain that the agencies won’t clear them without a remedy that ruins the economics [such as requiring a divestiture that wipes out a deal's anticipated benefits].

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