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To ease the merging companies’ paperwork burdens, U.S. antitrust regulators on Tuesday announced it would go forward with a plan to accept some of the required application information via the Web. Companies may now file Internet links to required documents, such as annual reports or annual audit reports, rather than filing hard copies with the agencies. Companies filing Hart-Scott-Rodino notifications will continue to be required to file duplicate merger notifications with both the Federal Trade Commission and its sister agency, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Initial merger filings often run 200 pages or more. The changes were announced by the FTC, where agency chairman Deborah Majoras has made streamlining the merger review process a priority. The commission is also amending the rules to spell out that HSR filings will expire after 18 months if a second request for information to either party remains outstanding. For instance, if merging companies decide to terminate their deal after a second request is issued, they have 18 months after the initial HSR filing to revive their deal without needing to file another round of pre-merger notification documents. HSR compliance, including responding to second requests for additional information, is an increasingly bothersome area for antitrust lawyers. The proliferation of e-mail and vast information trail left behind has become particularly problematic. When regulators launch an extended merger review, they typically ask for archived internal electronic communication relevant to the deal and the resulting electronic searches have resulted in more extensive — and expensive — filings. The average cost of complying with a second request has reached more than $5 million, according to Majoras. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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