Apple, Facebook Among Tech Giants Under Examination by FTC for Past Acquisitions

The review will help the FTC examine “whether large tech companies are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions”

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said it will be examining 10 years’ worth of acquisitions from tech giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as it looks into whether any anticompetitive steps were taken.

As part of its review, the FTC will require companies to share information on deals that were not previously reported to antitrust agencies. Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, originally passed in the mid-’70s, companies are required to share information on acquisitions that surpass a certain valuation; in 2020, the bar is set between $90-$94 million. That means the FTC will be looking at smaller deals that were less heralded than some of the headline-grabbing acquisitions of the past decade, like Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram or Microsoft’s $26.2 billion deal to purchase LinkedIn in 2016.

“The orders will help the FTC deepen its understanding of large technology firms’ acquisition activity, including how these firms report their transactions to the federal antitrust agencies, and whether large tech companies are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors that fall below HSR filing thresholds and therefore do not need to be reported to the antitrust agencies,” the FTC said in a press release.

The FTC voted 5-0 in favor of reviewing the deals, which span from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2019. Both how the tech giants integrated and acquired data from the companies they purchased will be reviewed, according to the FTC.

Companies will also be asked to share “information and documents on their corporate acquisition strategies, voting and board appointment agreements, agreements to hire key personnel from other companies, and post-employment covenants not to compete.”

Last summer, the FTC fined Facebook a record-setting $5 billion for multiple data security breaches.

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