When Google (GOOG) announced its $3.1 billion proposed acquisition of DoubleClick on April 13, recovering monopolists Microsoft (MSFT) and AT&T (T) were the most vociferous complainants urging regulators to scrutinize the deal.
Alluding to the irony, I asked Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith last week if he’d be hiring David Boies, of Boies Schiller & Flexner, to counsel his company on the antitrust issues. It was Boies, of course, who had sliced and very nearly diced Microsoft seven years ago as lead trial attorney for the government in its monopolization case against Microsoft.
“Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me,” Smith said, but he sounded intrigued, and asked me to have Boies call him if he seemed interested after I spoke to him.
Alas, I’ll be getting no referral fee. By the time I finally got through to Boies today, his partner Donald Flexner had already been retained by long-time client AT&T for the same purpose. Flexner could not immediately be reached for comment.
For now, regulators are doing their initial 30-day inquiry. In mid-May they will decide whether to make a “second request,” which is what would trigger a deep dive analysis that might last six to nine months. During that stage the regulators-who could be either at the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission-would typically seek information and submissions from interested parties, like AT&T. Finally, if the regulators ultimately approve the deal, private parties like AT&T have the right to file their own suits to try to block the merger, though you don’t see that tried very often.