Leading razor maker The Procter & Gamble Company (PG -0.56%) saw its acquisition of women's razor company Billie, Inc. hit a brick wall today as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit to prevent the merger. Revealed in a press release, the suit says the acquisition will "eliminate growing competition that benefits consumers" and give Procter excessive price-setting power in "the U.S. wet shave razor markets."
Mentioning Billie's advertising stand against the "pink tax," the claimed greater cost of women's razors, the FTC press release notes that "price and quality conscious customers" benefited from the brand's independent presence. Bureau of Competition Director Ian Connor said Billie appeared poised to start launching brick-and-mortar retail locations, challenging Procter's position even more strongly. "If P&G can snuff out Billie's rapid competitive growth, consumers will likely face higher prices," he added.
The acquisition is suspended by a temporary restraining order accompanied by a preliminary injunction, until the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hears the matter. Procter & Gamble's acquisition, initially inked in January, has now been set back at least six months, with a trial date currently set for June 22 of next year.
Noted as a Dividend King that has paid dividends for 68 consecutive years, Procter & Gamble is the second shaving sector company targeted this year by the FTC. Back on Feb. 3, the Commission launched a suit against Edgewell Personal Care Company (EPC 0.75%) to prevent its acquisition of subscription razor seller Harry's, Inc.
Expressing the FTC's seeming ongoing interest in wet shaving, Deputy Director Daniel Francis called Harry's "a uniquely disruptive competitor in the wet shave market." Just eight days later, on Feb. 11, Edgewell abandoned its acquisition attempt, Reuters reported. Whether Procter & Gamble will likewise capitulate remains to be seen.