Department of Justice Adopts New Focus on Bank Merger Assessments

On June 20, 2023, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter addressed the Brookings Institute to discuss the 60-year anniversary of a seminal Supreme Court of the United States case concerning bank mergers: United States v. Philadelphia National Bank. Kanter used the opportunity to announce a new approach by DOJ to its assessment of bank mergers consistent with President Biden’s July 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The new approach removes predictability from the merger review process and adds uncertainty as to how DOJ will assess competitive harm in bank mergers in a similar fashion to DOJ’s recent withdrawal of support for three policy statements that had permitted certain “safety zones” in the healthcare sector.

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