The Federal Trade Commission yesterday upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s decision that stated assets in the acquisition of Freedom Innovations by Otto Bock Healthcare North America must be divested.
The FTC ordered Otto Bock to divest the assets of Freedom Innovations to an FTC-approved buyer. According to the commission, both companies were top sellers of prosthetic knees with microprocessors (MPKs). The acquisition created anticompetitive harm in the microprocessor prosthetic knee market, which could lead to higher prices and less innovation. It was not reportable under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.
“Based on our de novo review of the facts and law in this matter, we find that the acquisition is likely to, and indeed already has, substantially lessened competition in the relevant market for MPKs,” the FTC’s opinion and final order states. “We hold that, to fully restore the competition lost from the acquisition, [Otto Bock] must divest Freedom’s entire business with the limited exceptions granted by the [Administrative Law Judge].”
The divesting order is the first time that the current FTC has ordered a consummated acquisition to be unwound.
“The commission is committed to ensuring competitive markets for the benefit of consumers, and there will be time when it has to act after a merger has been consummated,” FTC chairman Joseph Simons said in a news release. “The goal is always to restore the lost competition.”
The FTC said it issued its opinion within the 100-day deadline outlined in the rules of practice for adjudicative proceedings. The vote approving the opinion and order was 5-0. Otto Bock can file a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals within 60 days.