20 February 2019
In a three-to-two decision last month, the Federal Trade Commision granted conditional approval to Staples’ purchase of Essendant. The vote followed Republican and Democrat party lines, but the decision was insightful for both sides’ debate about how vertical mergers should be assessed. Today, we take a closer look at the decision, the ideological battle lines that were drawn and whether it foreshadowed disagreements to come. If yesterday was anything to go by, it very well may have, as the commissioners again voted three-to-two to approve a vertical merger, with both Democrats issuing dissents. We’ll have more on that tomorrow, by which time Federal offices in Washington, DC, will have hopefully reopened following their closure today because of expected snow.