The UK Treasury Department has published a summary of the responses to its joint consultation with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on the implementation of the Acquisitions Directive (2007/44/EC).
The Acquisitions Directive, which is intended to improve the supervisory approval process for mergers and acquisitions in the banking, insurance and securities sectors, must be implemented by EU member states by 21 March 2009. It is a maximum harmonisation directive, meaning that member states are not allowed to impose further measures than are in the directive.
The eleven respondents were broadly in favour of the specific questions posed in the consultation paper. These included the proposal to lower the 33% threshold at which a controller needs specific approval to 30%; having a single threshold of 20% for businesses not covered by specific European directives; and making it possible to stop the clock for 30 days during the FSA's time period for assessment in the case of non-authorised and non-EC acquirers.
Almost all the respondents requested a definition of "acting in concert" (a term used when deciding whether associated parties should be treated as together constituting a controller of a company) to be included in the legislation. The Treasury therefore circulated a potential definition to the respondents but further feedback indicated that the proposed definition could have unintended consequences. As a result, the Government decided not to include a definition of "acting in concert" at this stage but has said it remains willing to revisit the issue if problems arise in practice.
The FSA will respond separately to comments on the proposed changes to the FSA Handbook.