M&A Transactions and Antitrust Risk

M&A Transactions and Antitrust Risk

The antitrust risk is on the buyer to take agreed steps to obtain antitrust approvals, and some of the risk is allocated to the seller by allowing the parties to walk away from the deal if the most extreme risks materialize. This article outlines the top ten techniques for understanding, evaluating, and allocating antitrust risks in M&A agreements in a manner that may allow the execution of definitive deal documents to go forward.

Excerpt:

Deal certainty is a critical negotiating point in most M&A transactions. A bidder's ability to offer deal certainty to a seller in an auction can make or break a bid. Even if the seller has leverage over the buyer, it would be unusual to allocate all of the antitrust risk to the buyer by forcing the buyer to "close through" a failure to get a requisite regulatory approval. It is more common to allocate some of the risk to the buyer by forcing the buyer to take agreed steps to obtain antitrust approvals, and to allocate some of the risk to the seller by allowing the parties to walk away from the deal if the most extreme risks materialize. Fortunately, there are a number of recognized approaches that parties can use to understand, evaluate and parse antitrust risks in a manner that may allow the execution of definitive deal documents to go forward. Each of these techniques can be customized to take account of the relevant facts and circumstances of any given deal.

This article outlines the top ten techniques for allocating antitrust risks in M&A agreements. This article is designed for deal lawyers, not antitrust advisors, and it is not intended to present an analysis of substantive antitrust issues that can arise in M&A transactions.

This article is part of the "Speed Reading" series in which the authors highlight practical tips and recurring issues in M&A transactions and corporate governance. Lexis.com subscribers may access Special Committee in going private transactions, 2012 Emerging Issues 6205, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in M&A Transactions, 2012 Emerging Issues 6206, Designating Directors: Issues and Implications, 2011 Emerging Issues 5788, Charter and Bylaw Issues, 2010 Emerging Issues 5372, Top 10 Due Diligence Issues in M&A deals, 2010 Emerging Issues 5124, Issues in a Public Company Merger Agreement, 2010 Emerging Issues 4883.

1. Information Sharing and Joint Defense Agreements

Well before either party prepares a first draft of the transaction agreement, both parties should make a critical assessment of the antitrust risks of the proposed transaction. Each party should consult antitrust counsel, and economists if needed, to understand what the potential "overlaps" are, whether there are any reasonable remedies that would satisfy the regulators and allow the transaction to proceed and, if so, what impact the antitrust approvals process is likely to have on the transaction timeline. In competitive auctions, bidders should also assess how high their antitrust risk is compared to other likely bidders, because this may inform how aggressive the antitrust risk-sharing proposals of their bid should be.

Each party can complete some of its preliminary analysis independently, based on publicly available information and its own internal financial data. The parties can also review internal marketing materials and potential "4(c)" documents (such as presentations to senior management about the market share impacts of the transaction) to assess whether they have any "smoking guns" that cast their antitrust-related issues in a problematic light.

Parties to transactions involving companies that have assets or sales in non-U.S. jurisdictions should pay close attention to non-U.S. competition law requirements. Some of the BRIC countries, among others, have adopted expansive transaction notification requirements in the past few years. In some cases, non-U.S. filing requirements have long notice periods that can meaningfully impact overall transaction timing. Delays in transactions due to competition law processes expose the transaction to the risk of not closing by making it more possible for intervening events, changes in market conditions, interlopers or other disruptive factors to arise.

Access the full version of "M&A Transactions and Antitrust Risk" with your lexis.com ID. Additional fees may be incurred.

If you do not have a lexis.com ID, you can purchase this commentary and additional Emerging Issues Commentaries from the LexisNexis Store.

Lexis.com subscribers can access the complete set of Emerging Issues Analyses for Antitrust & Trade Law and the Antitrust & Trade Area of Law page.

For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.