Our deep experience in merger review builds from a long tradition of involvement in the development of merger clearance regimes in the United States, Europe and China.

WilmerHale has secured clearance for hundreds of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures in the United States and Europe from the US Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, European Commission, EU Member States and China, including some of the largest and most complex mergers in recent years. We have also successfully opposed mergers on our clients’ behalf. In either case, we engage the regulators proactively from the outset to maximize the prospect of achieving the result our client seeks; and we work with the client to obtain those results promptly and efficiently. Our lawyers appear before antitrust and competition authorities in the United States and Europe nearly every day and benefit from a deep understanding of those agencies.

Our Merger Clearance Practice also benefits from the firm’s strong regulatory practices in Washington DC, Europe and Beijing. Many transactions are reviewed not only by competition authorities, but also by sectorial regulators, such as the Federal Communications Commission in the United States. Our experience with these regulators and the industries they regulate provides us with additional insight and capabilities to assist in all aspects of the merger clearance process.

Mueller, Thomas

Thomas Mueller

Chair, Antitrust and Competition Practice Group

+1 202 663 6766 (t)



Some of the highlights of our merger clearance practice include:

  • Obtaining clearance from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for International Paper’s $710 million sale of its building products division to Georgia-Pacific.
  • Securing clearance from the DOJ for the sale by our client of a leading US publisher of Christian-themed books to the second largest publisher of such books.
  • Obtaining US clearance for International Paper’s acquisition of Temple-Inland and obtained US, German and Chinese clearance for its acquisition of Weyerhaeuser’s containerboard business.
  • Obtaining first-phase EU clearance for Lufthansa’s sale of British Midland to International Airlines Group, marking the first time that the Commission cleared a combination of airlines with hubs at the same airport; also represented Lufthansa AG in its successful acquisitions of three European air carriers—Brussels Airlines, British Midland and Austrian Airlines.
  • Obtaining US antitrust clearance for Qwest without the issuance of a Second Request in its merger with CenturyLink.
  • Representing Cisco in obtaining clearance in both the United States and before the European Commission (EC) for its acquisition of Tandberg, a matter repeatedly cited by US and EC officials as a primary example of transatlantic cooperation.
  • Securing US merger clearance for Brambles Limited’s $1.3 billion acquisition of IFCO Systems NV, two leading providers of pallet services in the United States.
  • Representing the second largest provider of regulated medical waste services in obtaining clearance for its acquisition by the largest provider of those services.
  • Obtaining clearance in the United States and Europe for Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.
  • Acting as co-counsel for Oracle in obtaining EC clearance for its acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Siebel.
  • Securing US DOJ clearance for Verizon Communications Inc.’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MCI and, later, the company’s $28.1 billion acquisition of Alltel.
  • Obtaining FTC clearance for Millennium Pharmaceuticals in connection with its $8.8 billion sale to Takeda—the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese drug firm.
  • Representing Statoil in obtaining EC approval of its $30 billion merger with the petroleum activities of Norsk Hydro.
  • Securing antitrust clearance in both the United States and Europe for the $14.9 billion Linde acquisition of the BOC Group to create the world’s largest industrial gases company.
  • Acting as regular outside antitrust counsel for BAE Systems transactions, including its acquisition of Lockheed Martin Sanders, Armor Holdings and United Defense before the US DOJ and Department of Defense.
  • Acting as regular outside antitrust counsel for Regal Cinemas transactions, including obtaining DOJ clearance for the combination of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains, creating the largest movie theater chain in the United States.

Historical Background

WilmerHale has an extensive background in the development of merger clearance regimes in the United States, Europe and China. Our lawyers’ experience, along with our continuous contact with the reviewing agencies, enables our team to provide insight and strategic advice for even the most complex of transactions.

Our history includes:

  • In the United States, the first merger guidelines produced by any competition authority were issued in 1968 by the Department of Justice and were drafted by then-Assistant Attorney General Don Turner, with assistance from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bob Hammond and Turner’s special assistant, Jim Campbell. Turner, Hammond and Campbell all later joined what was then Wilmer Cutler & Pickering and helped develop and expand the firm’s antitrust practice.
  • In Europe, Senior Counsel Claus-Dieter Ehlermann was Director-General for Competition at the European Commission just as the Commission’s Merger Regulation was coming into effect.
  • In Germany, Karlheinz Quack, a founder of the firm that is now the core of our Berlin office, was a principal in shaping German antitrust and competition law.