Number of mergers notified to watchdog halved after financial threshold change

Number of mergers notified to watchdog halved after financial threshold change

The number of mergers notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) halved following an increase in the financial threshold at the start of last year.

A total of 47 mergers and acquisitions were notified to the watchdog in 2019, a 52 per cent decrease on 2018.

Over the year, 49 determinations were issued by the CCPC, four of which required commitments to secure approval. Healthcare, real estate and information and communications were the most prominent sectors.

Nine notifications required an extended Phase 1 review and two of required a Phase 2 investigation. For non-extended Phase 1 investigations, the CCPC took on average 24.7 working days to issue a determination.

Brian McHugh, member of the commission, said: “2019 saw significant changes within the merger regime in Ireland as the implementation of the new higher merger financial thresholds resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of mergers notified.

“The reduced number of notifications reflect the goal of removing transactions which are unlikely to raise competition concerns from mandatory notification. This reduces the regulatory burden on Irish businesses and allows the CCPC to focus resources on transactions which are more likely to raise competition issues.”

The mergers watchdog also plans to introduce a simplified merger procedure (SMP) by the end of Q1 2020, having completed a consultation on the implementation.

The change is aimed at delivering “further efficiency benefits for businesses through a reduced notification burden and speedier decision timelines”, Mr McHugh said.

The CCPC also highlighted last year’s first-ever criminal prosecution in Ireland involving “gun-jumping” in a merger.

Following an investigation by the CCPC, Armalou Holdings Limited and Airfield Villas Limited pleaded guilty in Dublin Metropolitan District Court to illegally putting into effect a business merger without first notifying the CCPC.

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