U.S. Wants Simpler, More Unified Merger Reviews

The United States wants the European Union (EU) to develop common policies on merger reviews in a move designed to forge consensus on competition probes and to limit international disputes. The push is coming from the U.S. Justice Dept.'s international advisory committee. This panel reports that companies planning cross-border mergers face reviews by more than 60 legal authorities. The result: high transaction costs for companies, duplicated work, and conflicting results. For starters, the U.S. committee is calling on American officials to improve their own merger review processes. It complains that too much time and effort is wasted on probing small, lawful transactions worth less than $33 million. The U.S. panel was set up as a response to the row between Washington and the 15-nation EU over the 1997 merger review of Boeing Co. and McDonnell Douglas - approved by the U.S. but frowned on by the Europeans. The two companies did merge.

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