This year, we celebrate the 275th anniversary of our firm and mark our long tradition of looking ahead to anticipate the impact of changing laws and policies around the world on our clients. In global antitrust and trade, we will continue to see political and economic dynamics shape the enforcement of laws that heavily impact transactional activity and commercial conduct.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has gained international recognition for pushing novel and far-reaching theories motivated by notions of fair competition, with several of her higher profile targets in 2017 being large US multinationals.
In the US, Makan Delrahim has only recently been confirmed as Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and Joe Simons has now been nominated to serve as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Both are seasoned political appointees and private sector lawyers. Their prior track records would suggest a more conservative approach than the prior administration and a sharp philosophical divergence from the current direction of Commissioner Vestager.
Could 2018 be a watershed year for trans-Atlantic divergence, the likes of which we have not seen since the early millennium? Several important drivers may compound these tensions:
I am delighted to enclose our eighth annual review of key trends in global antitrust. We start and finish with important areas of potential international divergence in trade, public interest and foreign investment, and State aid, but also explore how these dynamics will play out on the ground in reality as agencies across all regions take action in 2018 in relation to business consolidation and conduct.
We will be updating these themes through the year, and holding a number of events to discuss their implications in more detail. If you are interested in hearing more, or joining our discussions, please get in touch with me or approach your usual contacts in our antitrust, competition and trade team.
Best wishes for a successful 2018.