Mike Cowie

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Mike Cowie guides industry leaders past antitrust obstacles, enabling them to grow their business and protect their strategic interests. Mr. Cowie has handled transformative deals for some of the world’s largest and most successful companies. His advice builds upon insights gained while directing precedent-setting investigations for the government.

Mr. Cowie 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. The FTC awarded Mr. Cowie several honors, including the FTC’s Meritorious Service and Superior Service awards.

Significant Representations

  • Led the antitrust team for Medco in its merger with Express Scripts, a US$34 billion deal that 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.  
  • Represented GE in a DOJ 2nd request investigation and 3 week trial in federal court over the US$3.3 billion sale of its appliance business to Electrolux. Before the trial ruling, GE terminated the deal, received a US$175 million break fee, and announced the sale of the business to another buyer for US$5.4 billion. 
  • Led the antitrust team helping CVS Health become the largest U.S. pharmacy through its US$1.8 billion acquisition of Target’s pharmacy business. This stands out as one of the few major retail sector deals in which the FTC conducted a 2nd request investigation and approved with zero divestitures.  
  • Led the antitrust team helping CVS become the largest U.S. institutional pharmacy through its US$12.7 billion acquisition of Omnicare. The FTC approved the acquisition without a 2nd request despite a public opposition campaign calling on the FTC to block the deal.
  • 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 2nd request investigation focusing on a “3-to-2” theory. 
  • Led the antitrust team for Buckeye in its US$1.5 billion merger with Georgia-Pacific. The merger received unconditional clearance despite a 2nd request investigation and media 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 to 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. The agencies have viewed this as a “prominent” merger precedent on how to assess monopsony. 
  • Led the FTC’s Evanston Northwest/Highland Park merger investigation, ending the agencies’ streak of 7 hospital merger losses.  
  • Led the FTC’s successful “superpremium ice cream” challenge – highlighted by the agencies to show when they will adopt narrow markets. 
  • Led the FTC’s successful challenge to the Quest-Unilab merger – highlighted by the agencies to show when they will find price discrimination markets.  
  • Led the FTC’s successful challenge to the Vlasic/Claussen pickle merger, a key precedent on how to analyze branded consumer products.
  • Led the FTC’s successful MSC Software litigation, a test case demonstrating the agencies’ willingness to litigate and unwind a non-reportable merger. 

Education

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

Bar Admissions/Qualifications

District of Columbia

Memberships

ABA Antitrust Section, Long Range Planning Committee (2016), Foreign Investment and Antitrust Interface Task Force (2013-2015); Vice Chair, Antitrust Programs (2011-2013); Vice-Chair, Mergers & Acquisition Committee (2008-2010); Editorial Board, Competition Law 360 (2011-2013); Editor, Antitrust Law Journal, Antitrust Magazine, and The Antitrust Source (1997-2005)
Chair, Antitrust Committee, ABA’s Administrative Law Section (2004-2005)