FTC to Probe Past Acquisitions by Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft

The commission issued 'special orders' to the companies to disclose information on past acquisitions that weren't reported to antitrust authorities.
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The FTC has issued "special orders" to five tech companies to turn over information on past acquisitions that were not previously reported to antitrust authorities.

The companies receiving the order are Apple , Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Report, Facebook  (FB) - Get Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report, Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Report and Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, the FTC said in a press release on Tuesday. 

The orders require the companies to disclose information and documents on the "terms, scope, structure, and purpose of transactions that each company consummated" in the ten-year period between 2010 and the end of last year, the FTC said. The special orders allow the FTC to "conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose," the FTC said in its press release.

"The orders will help the FTC deepen its understanding of large technology firms’ acquisition activity, including how these firms report their transactions to the federal antitrust agencies, and whether large tech companies are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors that fall below [Hart-Scott-Rodino] filing thresholds and therefore do not need to be reported to the antitrust agencies," according to the press release.

The order only covers acquisitions that were not reported to antitrust authorities during the time of the transaction.  

“This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in a statement.