Calling international cooperation in antitrust enforcement "one of my priorities," Joseph Wayland, the acting head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, said in a September 14 speech in Florence, Italy that it was "essential" that competition enforcers around the world work together to protect consumers.
But he also stressed that antitrust cooperation helps businesses. "We have an obligation to promote clarity and consistency in light of the existence of different national antitrust regimes around the world, and to reduce the burden on firms doing business globally," Wayland said, according to the prepared text of his remarks before the International Bar Association's 16th annual competition conference.
He continued, "Our goal as antitrust authorities should be to avoid, as much as possible in a multi-authority world, imposing inconsistent, conflicting, or inefficient rules on businesses, either generally or in individual cases."
Wayland, who has been acting assistant attorney general of the division since April, noted that DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition last year revised their "Best Practices on Cooperation in Merger Investigations" guidelines. "These provide an up-to-date advisory framework for interagency cooperation when one of the U.S. agencies and DG Comp review the same merger," he said.
Wayland also urged merging companies to agree to waiver letters so reviewing agencies can share confidential information.
He cited the recent $16.5 billion merger of United Technologies Corp. and Goodrich Corp. as an "excellent example"of the benefits of international antitrust cooperation.
The deal was reviewed by DOJ, the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau, and all three agencies announced their decisions on July 26.
DOJ found that the deal as proposed would have resulted in higher prices, less favorable contract terms and reduced innovation, and the parties agreed to divestitures. European regulators also approved the deal subject to certain conditions.
"The Canadian Competition Bureau stated that it would take no action regarding the merger because the U.S. and EC remedies 'appear to sufficiently mitigate the potential anti-competitive effects in Canada,'" Wayland said. "Synchronized remedies that impose consistent obligations on merging parties are one very practical example of how international cooperation helps businesses."