Judge rules non-reportable, consummated merger violates US antitrust law

One year since the filing of the lawsuit, and 18 months since the merger closed, a US federal judge declared on 8 January 2014 that Bazaarvoice violated section 7 of the Clayton Act by acquiring its main rival, Powerreviews.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) challenged the $168m (£103m) deal even though Powerreviews was too small to require an HSR pre-merger notification filing with the federal antitrust enforcers. This week’s ruling by judge William H Orrick underscores that even non-HSR reportable, consummated mergers are subject to close scrutiny and may be found to violate the antitrust laws. The case now moves to the remedy phase, where the DoJ can seek an order to unwind the merger.

The government argued that the merger would lead to higher prices and less innovation in the market for product ratings and review platforms used by e-commerce websites. Unlike in most merger challenges, the DoJ did not rely on a heavily concentrated market or high market shares…

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