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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

Facebook's reversal of D.C. fortune

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Yesterday's landmark lawsuits against Facebook cap four years in which tech companies' national standing has turned upside-down even as their fortunes have boomed.

When Vice President Joe Biden left office in Jan. 2017, Facebook, Google and other tech giants had the proud luster of American success stories. When President Biden takes office next month, his government will be charging Facebook and Google both as harmful monopolists — and pushing to break Facebook up.

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.