Given the substantial M&A activity that defines the landscape of the print and graphics communications industry, it's interesting to note that very few strategic acquisitions in recent years have triggered any antitrust concerns. Why do the regulators appear to be sitting it out on the sidelines while our industry is undergoing long-term consolidation?
According to legal expert James Burns of Dickinson Wright PLLC (Washington, DC), who leads the firm’s M&A antitrust practice, merging parties typically do not need to obtain federal regulatory approval for transactions that are valued below $68 million, and most regulatory review occurs on deals that require pre-approval. While regulators can review transactions below this reporting threshold, such review is uncommon (except in certain other industries, such as health care) absent unusual circumstances. State antitrust regulators similarly devote most of their attention to larger deals, but also occasionally review smaller transactions on a case by case basis, particularly if customers of the merging parties voice complaints about a proposed transaction.
What does this all mean? That given the high dollar deal size necessary to trigger a premerger notification obligation, very few acquirers among privately-owned firms in the print and graphics communications industry should lose much sleep over potential antitrust concerns. Of course, this can change down the road, but, for now, it's not an issue that should be of significant concern in most circumstances.