Friday, June 20, 2003

Antitrust News: ProBusiness and Procompetitive

Another merger comes to a happy conclusion:
After a six-month investigation, federal regulators have cleared the $500 million acquisition of Pleasanton-based ProBusiness Services Inc. by payroll processing giant Automatic Data Processing Inc., or ADP.

In a statement Friday, ProBusiness said the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice closed its investigation of the proposed acquisition and granted early termination of the mandated waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act on Thursday.

Because ProBusiness has a large share of Fortune 500 clients, experts worried that a merger with ADP would concentrate too much share in the payroll processing market. Shares of ProBusiness were trading well below the deal price earlier this year as Wall Street analysts speculated publicly about whether the deal would be blocked.
It's nice that the DOJ allowed the merger to proceed, but you have to question the efficiency of a process that takes six months to look for something wrong, yet turns up nothing. Once upon a time, we called that a "witch hunt," not law enforcement.

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