Mike Cowie guides industry leaders past antitrust obstacles, enabling them to grow their business and protect their strategic interests. Mr. Cowie has handled industry-transforming transactions for some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. His advice builds upon insights gained while directing precedent-setting investigations for the government.
Mr. Cowie previously served in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition as Assistant Director, where he managed a 25-attorney team responsible for antitrust merger investigations. Mr. Cowie also served as the FTC’s Senior Litigation Counsel responsible for leading the Commission’s antitrust litigation. He received several honors from the FTC, including the Commission’s Meritorious Service and Superior Service awards.
Mr. Cowie has been called upon for expert antitrust testimony in the U.S. Congress, state legislature, and federal agencies. He has been featured on CNBC and CNN and has provided antitrust commentary to The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Mr. Cowie’s precedent-setting engagements include the following:
- Led the antitrust team for Medco in its merger with Express Scripts, the largest deal (at $34 billion) of 2012. This deal closed unconditionally following “an intensive 8 month investigation” by the FTC and over 30 State AGs, two Congressional hearings, opposition by over 80 members of Congress, and an unsuccessful last-minute lawsuit by competitors.
- Guided Whirlpool in obtaining unconditional clearance to acquire Maytag following an investigation DOJ has described as “thorough,” “much discussed,” and “closely watched.”
- Represented OfficeMax in its merger with Office Depot, a combination that received unconditional clearance following an FTC second-request investigation focusing on a “3-to-2” theory.
- Led the antitrust team for Buckeye in its $1.5 billion merger with Georgia-Pacific. The merger received unconditional clearance despite a second request investigation and press attention on the merger agreement’s “target on the back” divestiture commitments.
- Led the work for Beam in a merger combining leading bourbon brands – Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Knob Creek. The agencies have highlighted this merger to “illustrate” how companies can dispel allegations of “unilateral market power.”
- Helped Cargill complete its acquisition of Continental Grain despite an extensive DOJ and State AG investigation and vocal opposition from Congress and farming groups. This is the “prominent” (DOJ) merger precedent on how the agencies assess monopsony.
Mr. Cowie’s precedent-setting cases in government include the following:
- Led the FTC’s Evanston Northwest/Highland Park consummated merger investigation, ending the agencies’ streak of hospital merger losses.
- Led the FTC’s successful “superpremium ice cream” challenge – now highlighted by the agencies to show when they will adopt narrow markets.
- Led the FTC’s successful challenge to the Quest Diagnostics-Unilab merger – now highlighted by the agencies to show when they will find price discrimination markets.
- Led the FTC’s successful MSC Software litigation, a test case demonstrating the agencies’ willingness to litigate and unwind a non-reportable merger.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, B.A., Economics, 1986, Magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Honors in Economics, Omicron Delta Epsilon Economics Honorary Society
Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1989, Cum laude, Editor of The Georgetown Law Journal
District of Columbia
Member, Foreign Investment and Antitrust Interface Task Force (2013-14)
Vice Chair, American Bar Association, Antitrust Programs (2011-13), Mergers & Acquisition Committee (2008-2010)
Editorial Board, Competition Law 360 (2011-13)
Editor, Antitrust Law Journal, Antitrust Magazine, and The Antitrust Source (1997-2005)
Chair, Antitrust Committee, ABA’s Administrative Law Section (2004-2005)