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Antitrust regulators were marginally more willing to allow deals to proceed without significant review in 1999 than the year before. A new report from the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice finds that antitrust regulators allowed deals to close before the 30-day mandatory waiting period expired 75.5 percent of the time in the 1999 fiscal year. That compares with a 74.8 percent rate in 1998. The government only waives the waiting period required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act when it has no antitrust objections to a deal. Antitrust regulators also were slightly less likely in 1999 to issue a second request for more details on a transaction. Of the 4,642 deals reported, regulators issued second requests 2.6 percent of the time. That compares with 2.7 percent in 1998, 3.5 percent in 1997 and 1996, and 3.8 percent in 1995. Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, cautioned against jumping to conclusions because the changes are relatively small. He said the figures could reflect the large number of high-profile cases that required agency resources and the pressure on the agencies from lawmakers, who have expressed concern about the burdens of the merger review process. But, he added, “I don’t think it has a clear meaning.” The FTC and Justice Department granted 3,103 requests for early terminations from the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act’s 30-day waiting period. The regulators rejected 1,007 petitions. Both numbers are lower than in 1998, in part because few companies sought early termination. Last year, 88.5 percent of companies involved in mergers sought a waiver from the 30-day period, down from 91.4 percent in 1998. Overall, the 4,642-deal total reported in fiscal 1999, which ended Sept. 30, was down 2 percent from the 4,728 deals reported in fiscal 1998. Yet the number was 203 percent higher than the 1,529 transactions reported in 1995. For the fourth straight year, the Justice Department was more likely to seek a second request for data. Of the 111 second requests issued in 1999, 45 were from the FTC, and 66 were from the Justice Department. (About 300 deals were not eligible for second requests because the transaction fell through or involved an accumulation of stock not covered by the law, or the application was incomplete.) For the third straight year, July was the busiest month for mergers and acquisitions. The report said 444 deals were filed in July, followed by 434 in August and 427 in March. Nearly half the deals reported involved transactions valued at less than $50 million. Those 2,163 deals received 17 second requests. Another 273 deals with values of $1 billion or more were reported. Of those, the government issued second requests in 45 cases. Industries with the most mergers included business services with 397, communications with 370, wholesale durable goods with 241, chemicals with 167, electric and gas with 161, building materials with 144, food products with 141, health services with 140 and printing and publishing with 126. Copyright �2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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