What's Up With Apple: Unreported Acquisitions, Help for Texas Women, and More

U.S. regulators cannot keep up with the skyrocketing pace of acquisitions, according to a report Monday in the Washington Post. This is especially the case for small acquisitions. So far this year, acquiring firms have sought nearly 3,000 mergers with or acquisitions of smaller companies in deals valued at less than $92 million, the level below which the deals do not have to be reported.

In February 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required five tech giants, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) “to provide information and documents on the terms, scope, structure, and purpose of transactions that each company consummated between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019 for which the company did not file an HSR [Hart Scott Rodino] notification form.”

According to the FTC report, the five companies recorded 819 non-reportable transactions for the 10-year period, an average of 164 mergers or acquisitions per company. The most frequently used transaction type was acquiring voting control. There were 382 transactions of this type, an average of 76.4 per company. The FTC reported only aggregated data that did not identify the companies individually.

FTC Chair Lina Khan commented:

This study highlights the systemic nature of their acquisition strategies. It captures the extent to which these firms have devoted tremendous resources to acquire start-ups, patent portfolios and entire teams of technologists, and how they were able to do so largely outside the purview of the antitrust agencies.

Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared at an all-hands employee meeting last Friday, the first of its kind since reports of disquiet over some company policies began filtering out a few months ago. According to a report in the New York Times, Cook answered only two specific questions. The first was a query about how Apple handled complaints about pay inequity. HR chief Deirdre O’Brien said, “When we find any gaps at all, which sometimes we do, we close them.”

The second question was related to the recent passage of a strict new abortion law in Texas. The Times reported:

Asked what Apple was doing to protect its employees from Texas’ abortion restrictions, Mr. Cook said that the company was looking into whether it could aid the legal fight against the new law and that its medical insurance would help pay for Apple workers in Texas if they needed to travel to other states for an abortion.

According to a report in Politico Europe, the European Commission is expected to introduce a proposal on Thursday requiring manufacturers of electronic devices to use a common design for their device chargers. The primary target of the proposal is Apple. The company has resisted European Union efforts to standardize chargers, claiming such a rule would “hamper innovation.” If adopted, the rule would go into effect in 2024.

Last week, a non-practicing entity (aka, patent troll) filed suit against Apple claiming infringement of two of the firm’s patents related to voice-controlled internet searches, such as those generated by Apple’s Siri voice assistant. AppleInsider has a copy of the complaint and more details on the lawsuit.

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