A federal judge in Maryland on Tuesday declined to halt
Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp.’s
purchase of a competing cybersecurity company, turning back the Justice Department’s effort to block the deal on antitrust grounds.
Booz Allen in March moved to acquire EverWatch, a company it had been competing against to win a five-year contract to support the National Security Agency’s mission of collecting foreign communications. The Justice Department sued in June, alleging that the acquisition would drive up prices for the U.S. government and create a monopoly supplier for a critical national-security service.
The decision is the latest of merger-lawsuit losses for the Justice Department’s antitrust division. In September, a federal judge in Delaware turned back the DOJ’s challenge of U.S. Sugar’s planned purchase of rival Imperial Sugar. The same month, a judge in the District of Columbia ruled against the government’s antitrust challenge to
UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s
$13 billion acquisition of health-technology company Change Healthcare.
In the Booz Allen case, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake denied the government’s request for an injunction that would prevent the deal from closing while the Justice Department litigated the merits of its case. The judge’s order didn’t explain the basis for her decision but ordered the two sides to report back on the next steps for the case.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department didn’t respond to a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Booz Allen said the company appreciates the judge’s “careful consideration of the evidence in this matter.”
Booz Allen is a government contractor that provides management and technology consulting services. Based in Reston, Va., EverWatch builds systems to defend against national cyber threats.
The Justice Department had said both companies spent years building teams of more than 20 subcontractors each in advance of the NSA’s request for proposals for the contract. Booz Allen moved to acquire EverWatch shortly before the bidding document was released, authorities said.
Booz Allen said at the time the Justice Department filed its lawsuit in June that authorities were wrong about the deal, which the company said would benefit its government customers.
Write to Dave Michaels at [email protected]
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Appeared in the October 12, 2022, print edition as ‘DOJ Rebuffed In Case Against Booz Allen.’