DAMITT: How Long Does it Take to Conduct Antitrust US Merger Investigations?

The Dechert Antitrust Merger Investigation Timing Tracker, or DAMITT, is a tool used to measure the time from transaction announcement until resolution of the investigation for Hart-Scott-Rodino Act reportable transactions resulting in a closing statement, consent order, complaint challenging the transaction, or abandonment for which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) takes credit. DAMITT has tracked merger investigation and litigation trends for each year since 2011, including the number and duration of significant investigations, the frequency with which upfront buyers are used in consent orders requiring divestitures, and the time it takes to litigate government antitrust merger challenges. 

Leading publications have relied on the DAMITT data when writing about the antitrust merger review process, including in The Wall Street Journal, The Street, The Street TV, Time, Fortune, MLexLaw360, FTC Watch, PaRR, Global Competition ReviewAmerican Lawyer, and Dechert's very own Crunched Credit, as have other law firms.

DAMITT results are updated on a quarterly basis. Sign up here to receive updates or see the results for the latest quarter.

Average Duration of Significant U.S. Antitrust Merger Investigations (2011 - 2016 Q3 YTD)

 

Significant U.S. Antitrust Merger Investigations (2011 - 2016 Q3 YTD)

 

Upfront vs. Post-Order Buyer Trend (2011 - 2016 Q3 YTD)

 

Time to Litigate Government Antitrust Merger Challenges
(Complaints Filed: 2011, 2015 and 2016 Q3 YTD)

 

What Do the DAMITT Numbers Mean for Companies Considering a Merger?

The antitrust agencies have not let up on merger enforcement but continue to be active in pursuing significant merger investigations in 2016 at a similar pace to 2015, which was a record-setting year. The duration of antitrust merger investigations appears to have reached a steady state, albeit one much longer than historical norms. But the duration of antitrust merger litigation continues to increase, adding cost and deal risk to antitrust-sensitive transactions. DAMITT shows that significant merger investigations are lasting an average of 9.7 months in 2016 and that merger litigation (including the time waiting for a decision) could take another 7.0 months. Circumstances of individual transactions may lead to results above or below the mean, but parties to the hypothetical average deal now have to plan on 17 months if they intend to fight for the right to combine, and perhaps longer if the trend toward longer litigation continues.