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Merger transactions submitted for review by U.S. antitrust regulators in fiscal 2004 increased to 1,454, a jump of more than 40 percent from the year before, according to a government report released Tuesday. Despite the spike, 2004 resulted in the second lowest rate of requests by regulators for additional information from merging parties in a decade, or only 2.5 percent of the filings. Second information requests are the first step in a formal investigation of a merger. The latest statistics were released by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in compliance with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which requires annual reports to Congress on the antitrust review process. According to the data, there were more than 100 acquisitions with a price tag of $1 billion or greater. However, the majority of the deals — 514, or about 37 percent — were between $50 million and $100 million. The FTC examined 142 mergers in some detail and issued second requests for information on 20. The agency subsequently challenged 15 of those deals for a variety of reasons, though 10 were cleared through consent orders. Only one case was litigated, one administrative complaint was brought and three transactions were ultimately abandoned. At the Department of Justice, the antitrust division reviewed 94 mergers in detail, issuing 15 second requests. The DOJ challenged only nine cases, resolving five with consent decrees, taking one case to litigation, and two of the cases were ultimately abandoned. One case reviewed by the DOJ was restructured after antitrust analysis raised concerns, the report noted. The manufacturing industry was responsible for the bulk of the mergers in fiscal 2004, at 30 percent. Banking and insurance accounted for 18 percent, while information technology was responsible for 12.4 percent and the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector was responsible for 7 percent. Energy and natural resources accounted for less than 4 percent of the deals, though industry analysts expect the sector’s share to increase significantly now that the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 has been repealed. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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