Now that the Department of Justice has given antitrust approval to the most watched merger review of the year, lawyers are trying to gauge what the outcome of the Whirlpool Corp. takeover of Maytag Corp. means for future deals.

The $2.7 billion deal clearly highlights three facts for businesses that want to establish their acquisition strategies. First, despite a major court case indicating otherwise, customer testimony is still critical to regulators’ decisions. Second, market definition remains a key element of merger analysis, but the value of individual competitors “in the market” can vary dramatically. Third, DOJ antitrust chief Thomas Barnett is making progress in evaluating competitive problems faster, as the agency cleared the merger of the nation’s largest appliance makers in about six months, instead of the year it might have taken a few years ago.

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