DAMITT Q3 Update: Significant US Antitrust Merger Investigations and Complaints Are Down Sharply But Taking Longer
The Dechert Antitrust Merger Investigation Timing Tracker (DAMITT) for Q3 2017 recorded a 25% decline in the number of significant merger investigations and an 80% decline in the number of complaints challenging proposed Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR)-reportable deals compared to the prior year, on both a year-to-date (YTD) and a rolling 12 months (RTM) basis. At the same time, merging parties were giving the agencies more time from the date of announcement to the issuance of second requests—81 days in 2017 YTD (up from 72 days during the same period in 2016) and 87 days on an RTM basis (up from 69 days in the prior 12 months). Despite this added time at the outset, the duration of significant merger investigations continued to grow, hitting 11.6 months for 2017 YTD and 11.2 months on an RTM basis, both of which exceed the longest full year on record by nearly 20%. The changes over the same period last year are so pronounced that they are difficult to chalk up to randomness. But it is unclear whether the extended significant investigations reflect delays caused by the transition in administrations, a policy shift of the Trump administration, or some other systemic change.