I’m normally an observer of FCC here at RedState, and one thing that constantly frustrates me is the capricious way that the regulator treats proposed mergers. It’s gotten so bad that they instituted a ‘shot clock’ because even they had to acknowledge their stalling was ridiculous.
They then proceeded to declare they were ‘pausing the shot clock.’ It’s out of hand. Regulators have taken antitrust and made it into an opportunity to extort business. Turns out FTC is just as bad, as we’re seeing in the Sysco Corporation case.
The Sysco Corporation wants to merge with US Foods. Sysco sells and distributes food for restaurants and food service kitchens. So does US Foods. And so the negotiations with government began.
FTC and Sysco then spent a year negotiating, and Sysco agreed to sell 11 specific US Foods-owned distributorships across the country, as a condition of making the deal, distributorships worth a combined $4.6 billion in revenue. These aren’t small time areas, either: They cover Seattle, Inland Empire in California, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Cleveland. That’s 11 markets where Sysco is agreeing to just sell stuff off, that they were trying to buy, and FTC continues to obstruct.
And this is just one regulator. Firms that want to make deals often have to go to DC to deal with four separate government entities: FTC, Department of Justice Anti-trust, an industry-specific regulator, and the US Congress. And each one can play its own little stall games, making demands.
We’re in a global economy today. Domestic firms have to face competition from abroad. The economy does not have the same structure it did in the early 20th century. It’s time we rolled back antitrust, and streamlined it to be more competitive, and respectful of private property, instead of giving big government meddlers free shots to make demands of companies.