back to article Oh good, the FTC has discovered acqui-hires... American watchdog to probe decade of Big Tech takeovers

An American biz watchdog has stepped up its probe into possible market abuse by Big Tech – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – by demanding information on all acquisitions not reported to antitrust authorities in the past decade. The FTC issued “special orders” to the big five on Tuesday requesting “the terms, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expect to see the FTC chair sacked if he refuses to share details about Amazon with Trump.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking for intelligence?

    "Judging by the impact of the announcement on the companies’ stock prices, ..."

    Wait, you're not actually looking for an intelligent assessment of risk by the brains on Wall Street, are you?

    Isn't there some phrase like the "stupid investor's smart investor" or something?

  3. IGotOut
    Holmes

    wow...just wow.

    They seem just have discovered why companies by other companies.

    Ffs.

  4. DougS Silver badge

    How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

    The original product(s) if any of the acquired company would no longer be relevant in 2020, many of the original employees will have moved on, etc. If they wanted Apple to unwind their deal to buy Siri, does it get the current Siri software or Siri software in the state it was when Apple acquired it? Does it get employees Apple hired to work on Siri related projects that have no desire to work for some coughed up startup?

    I think it is great they are reviewing these, maybe they will find they need to do some scrutiny of these deals when they occur. But the idea of unwinding them is ridiculous!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

      You can't. But if you're the FTC you might be able to collect a tidy sum in back-dated fines.

      Alternatively you could order the businesses to be split in other ways. For instance chop Microsoft into Operating systems, Application and Online businesses.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

        By what authority could they fine a company for making an acquisition that was not required to be reviewed by the FTC at the time it was made? That would be like dropping the speed limit on the street I live to 15 mph tomorrow then sending me tickets in the mail for the thousands of times I've driven it at 25 (or more) mph since I moved here.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

          The FTC's authority is not limited by reporting requirements.

          This isn't a case of an ex post facto re-regulation. It's the FTC operating under existing regulations regarding anti-competitive behavior. Those just don't happen to require reporting to the FTC prior to making the acquisition, for acquisitions that aren't subject to the reporting requirements of the Act.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

        A "tidy sum in back-dated fines", in America corporatism = "We are going to fine you. 15 hours profit"

        "Have a nice day"

    2. RobHib
      Stop

      Re: How in the hell can you "unwind" a decade old deal?

      Forget it, nothing will ever happen as too much money is involved.

      Even if it were theoretically possible to take money out of the equation then lobbying and backhanders would ensure the result would be the same.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I wonder if this means they're going to take a look at Xerox/HP Inc.

    1. Danny Boyd

      Or reconsider their approval of T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

      1. Zarno Bronze badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Ahahahaahahhahaha.

        Given that is mostly FCC purview, and we have an Ajit in there, probably not.

        I need a keyboard clean, STAT.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Is Trump mad at Xerox or HPI today?

      Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to have the FTC investigating these myriad "small" acquisitions. Even if no wrongdoing is found, it's always good to have someone casting an eye at the big players.

      But launching this now, during a notionally pro-business Republican administration, is probably only politically feasible because the Bully-in-Chief wants to harass at least one of the targets, and Big Tech has historically been a bit cozier with the Democrats (for various political reasons).

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