The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice announced that it reached a settlement in its litigation challenge against ASSA ABLOY AB’s proposed USD 4.3 billion acquisition of Spectrum Brand Holding Inc.’s Hardware and Home Improvement division. The settlement, which came in the middle of trial and is now subject to court approval, is the first negotiated settlement under DOJ Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter. Notably, comments from the judge during the trial suggested skepticism towards the DOJ’s position and potential difficulties for the DOJ in winning its case. Without the settlement, this case may have been next in a recent number of DOJ litigation losses.
On 18 January 2022, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission announced a joint public inquiry seeking comments on ways to “modernize” the federal merger guidelines and “strengthen merger enforcement.” The press release calls for public comments on a range of topics and highlights the agencies’ joint view that many industries across the economy are becoming more concentrated and “less competitive.” In their statements, both DOJ Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter, and FTC Chair, Lina M. Khan, announced an intention to “overhaul” the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and conduct a broad-based review of the 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines.