The US Federal Trade Commission has just escalated its anti-competitive crackdown on the country's tech giants by launching a probe on their mergers and acquisitions over the last decade. The FTC stated on Tuesday that it has ordered Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to provide it with all relevant information regarding its deals from 2010 to 2019.
The order for the information related to mergers, including those that were otherwise too small to require reporting to antitrust regulators, comes as various agencies step up their investigations on tech giants following continued accusations of anti-competitive behavior. This includes standing investigations launched by the Justice Department, state attorneys general, and the House Judiciary Committee.
Most of the investigations currently revolve around massive deals made by the US tech giants, including Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods and Facebook's purchase of Instagram. However, regulators have started to look at the company's smaller acquisitions, which have collectively changed the competitive landscape in several sectors. US tech giants have apparently spent billions of dollars in taking over their much smaller competitors, raising valid concerns from other industry players.
FTC chairman Joseph Simons mentioned that the orders given to the US companies are primarily for research purposes. However, if they do find anything irregular, the information could be used to support the enforcement of the law. Simons clarified that the order should not be treated as a warning to the companies, but instead as a way to identify areas where antitrust enforcement can be improved.
So far, only Microsoft had issued a statement related to the order. A Microsoft spokesperson told the media that the company was looking forward to working with the FTC and to provide them with any information they need. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook have yet to release official responses.
The specific information that was ordered by the FTC included all dealings from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2019. This included small transactions that generally do not require any reporting to regulators.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, Facebook alone spent billions of dollars acquiring dozens of companies between 2010 and 2019. Alphabet spent more than $1 billion on small acquisition in 2019 alone. Microsoft reportedly spent $1.6 billion during the same period, acquiring a total of 19 small companies.
Apart from regulators, US tech giants have been openly criticized by politicians, who are calling for agencies to put a stop to increasing consolidations. Senator Elizabeth Warren recently called on federal regulators to halt "anti-competitive mergers."