On Tuesday, a bill that will increase fees for the biggest mergers was passed by the US Senate. Under the new bill, companies that plan the largest mergers will pay out more to government antitrust agencies, and in turn, these agencies will receive greater budgets.
The bill was co-sponsored by Democrat and top antitrust senator, Amy Klobuchar and top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley. It aims to lower fees for smaller mergers under $161.5 million. At current, smaller mergers pay $45,000, but under the introduction of the new bill, the cost will reduce to $30,000. However, where a deal is worth $5 billion or above, the fees would increase substantially, from $280,000 to $2.25 million.
Mergers are assessed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division to check that they observe antitrust law. The bill would amplify authorisations to each of these agencies. The Federal Trade Commission would receive a budget of $148 million, and the Antitrust Division would receive $252 million. The Federal Trade Commission would receive $389.8 million for the next fiscal year under the Biden administration. With the yearly budget currently sat at $351 million, the FTC would see an increase of approximately 11%. Under the Biden administration, the Antitrust Division would also see a significant budget increase of 8.6%
The bill comes as part of a Senate package directed at boosting the US’ ability to compete with Chinese tech. It is hoped that the measures will improve the system for assessing mergers and bring an end to anti-competitive practices.