In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission allowed Northrop Grumman to acquire rocket-motor maker Orbital ATK, with conditions. Now Politico reports that FTC lawyers believe Northrop violated those conditions. That violation may have resulted in Boeing dropping out of the competition to build a replacement for the Minuteman III missile, which Northrop as a result won. The situation raises interesting antitrust implications, because earlier this year FTC forced Lockheed Martin to abandon a planned acquisition of Orbital competitor Aerojet Rocketdyne. It seems a double standard existed in reviewing the two mergers. The question now is what FTC will do to remedy circumstances in which Aerojet has been placed in a position of structural inferiority in the marketplace. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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