FTC Approves Final Order Resolving PoolCorp Antitrust Claims
The FTC has approved the final order resolving claims that Pool Corporation, Inc. (“PoolCorp”) acted anticompetitively in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
PoolCorp is a major distributor of commercial and residential swimming pool supplies, products, and equipment. According to the FTC complaint in In the Matter of Pool Corporation, PoolCorp is the “largest nationwide buyer of pool products, commonly representing 30 to 50 percent of a manufacturer’s total sales.” In local markets, PoolCorp allegedly has had “a market share of approximately 80 percent or higher for at least the past five years.”
The FTC alleged that PoolCorp “unlawfully maintained its monopoly power by threatening to refuse to deal with any manufacturer that sells its pool products to a new distributor entering the market, thereby foreclosing potential rivals from an input necessary to compete.” The Statement provided by Commissioners Julie Brill, Jon Leibowitz and Edith Ramirez in support of the Complaint and Order highlights a lack of independent business reasons or efficiency justifications for the alleged conduct.
Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch provided a Dissenting Statement in which he claimed there was a lack of evidence of any violation. In particular, Commissioner Rosch noted that “no entrants were actually excluded” from the markets at issue and that there was “no consumer injury” in this case. Moreover, Commissioner Rosch found “legitimate reasons” for manufacturers not to sell to new entrants, such as a new entrant’s failure to demonstrate that it offers “adequate facilities, a history of successful operations, and a favorable credit history ….”
PoolCorp has executed a Consent Agreement requiring particular conduct and reporting practices.