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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday updated its merger remedies guidelines for the first time in nearly a decade.

Why it matters: This is the new framework for how DOJ plans to solve for antitrust concerns, including for mega-mergers that reshape industries.

The big winner is private equity, which for the first time received explicit and positive mention as a viable "divestiture buyer" of assets that merging companies may be required to sell.

  • DOJ writes that "in some cases a private equity purchaser may be preferred," due to its financial resources, strategic flexibility, and access to industry expertise.

Divestiture is a major theme in the new manual.

  • DOJ writes that "structural remedies are strongly preferred" to conduct remedies.
  • In other words, it would rather the merging companies divest their way out of antitrust concerns than promise to be on their best behavior (i.e., conduct remedy).

Looking ahead: DOJ last week said it's considering a review of its bank merger rules.

  • In quasi-related news, The NY Times reports that DOJ plans to file antitrust charges against Google by month's end, with AG Barr overruling "career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case."

The bottom line: The new guidelines are in keeping with what we've seen in practice from Trump's DOJ, but now it's been codified.

Go deeper

Salesforce's Slack deal resets the tech antitrust debate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Salesforce’s acquisition of work chat company Slack for $28 billion to better compete with Microsoft underscores just how hard it is for tech companies big and small to challenge today's dominant tech giants.

Flashback: Less than a year ago, Justice Dept. assistant attorney general for antitrust Makan Delrahim touted Slack’s trajectory from small VC-backed startup to publicly-traded software company as an illustration of a healthy, well-functioning market in which it's possible for newcomers to prosper independently. 

Updated Dec 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr says DOJ has not seen evidence of fraud that would change election results

Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told AP on Tuesday that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: It's a direct repudiation of President Trump's baseless claims of a "rigged" election from one of the most loyal members of his Cabinet.

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  3. Education: Devos extends federal student loan relief to Jan. 31
  4. States: New Mexico to allow hospitals to ration coronavirus medical care
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.