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As we posted yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has at long last issued its final regulatory rule banning virtually all existing and future U.S. non-compete agreements. In this series, we will unpack some of the more nuanced questions surrounding the final rule. Although the series is generally applicable, today’s post is particularly geared toward private equity firms and financial institutions.

How does the sale-of-business exception work?

One of the exceptions to the final rule is that it does “not apply to a non-compete clause that is entered into by a person pursuant to a bona fide sale of a business entity, of the person’s ownership interest in a business entity, or of all or substantially all of a business entity’s operating assets.”

This language is fairly similar to an exception included in the FTC’s January 2023 proposed non-compete rule – however, there is an important change in the final rule. Specifically, the proposed rule included an exception for certain non-compete agreements between the seller and the buyer of a business that applied only to a substantial owner, member, or partner, defined as an owner, member, or partner with at least 25 percent ownership interest in the business entity being sold. In the final rule, however, the FTC has dropped the 25 percent ownership interest requirement.Continue Reading Unpacking the FTC’s ban on U.S. non-compete agreements: Impact on private equity and financial institutions