Sunday, April 20, 2014

Keeping the Competition in High School Class Rings

Bloomington, Minnesota based Jostens Inc. has given up on its attempt to acquire American Achievement Corp., a competitor in the high school class ring business. Jostens offered AAC $486 million for the company but the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition went to federal court seeking an injunction to prevent the merger and Jostens threw in the towel as described here. The logic behind the FTC action is described in their press release.

Despite the fact that the voluntary purchase of a class ring is hardly a necessity to the success or even survival of the graduate and that if the business is indeed a lucrative one, competition should be present, an interesting aspect of the situation is the make-up of the FTC Bureau of Competition itself, headed by Deborah Feinstein:

  The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday that the partner leading Arnold & Porter LLP's U.S. antitrust practice has been appointed director of the FTC bureau that investigates the economic impact of mergers and acquisitions and stifles anti-competitive conduct, and that it had tapped a new head for the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Arnold & Porter partner Deborah Feinstein, who has headed up the firm's 80-lawyer antitrust practice since 2011, is expected to take charge of the Bureau of Competition on July 1, she told Law360 on Monday.

"I am excited by the opportunity to work again at the FTC under the leadership of Chairwoman [Edith] Ramirez to foster the FTC’s mission of protecting consumers," Feinstein said in an email.

She will be taking the reins of the bureau where she worked as an assistant to the director from 1989 to 1991, before returning to Arnold & Porter — the firm where had she started her career in 1987.

During her tenure with the firm, she compiled an impressive client list, representing General Electric Co., megaplex chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., PepsiCo Inc. and other corporations in multibillion-dollar deals.

Named one of the most influential female lawyers in the country by The National Law Journal, Feinstein provided counsel for BP PLC during the FTC's nine-month investigation into Tesoro Corp.'s proposed $2 billion purchase of BP's Southern California refining and marketing operations in 2012. The FTC approved that transaction, finding it would not substantially reduce competition, in mid-May.

She also represented Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, in its successful bid to buy EMI Group Ltd.'s music publishing arm from Citigroup Inc. for $2.2 billion — a deal the FTC approved in June 2012.

Deborah Feinstein can obviously navigate the maze of the federal bureaucracy that she exits and enters with ease. One more example of the crony capitalism that infests Sodom on the Potomac.

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