Finland. On March 11, 2011, the Finnish Parliament approved the new Competition Act, which is expected to come into force in September 2011.
The Act will introduce a number of changes relating to merger rules, notably with a view toward greater harmonization with EU Law:
- The present dominance test in merger will be • extended to a test broadly covering any Significant Impediment of Effective Competition (SIEC test).
- A number of procedural improvements are also • introduced (suppression of time limit for notification, stop the clock mechanism, etc.).
The Finnish Competition Authority has announced guidelines on merger control in preparation that are expected to enter into force in a similar time frame.
Mexico. The legislative reform process that was initiated in April 2010 with respect to the Mexican Competition Act has resulted in a series of amendments that became effective as of May 11, 2011.
The amendments are intended to simplify administrative procedures regarding the notification of certain type of mergers, enhance the transparency in and streamline the Federal Competition Commission’s (FCC) review process for mergers. The changes include new exceptions to the obligation to obtain merger clearance, such as in the case of corporate restructurings. The amendments also provide for a shorter notification period for transactions to expedite the review process. The FCC will also have to issue general guidelines every five years on issues such as calculation of administrative fines, definition of the relevant market and substantial market power, which are to accompany its regulations.
Croatia. A new regulation has been announced on notification and assessment of concentrations for the Competition Agency. Unlike the old rules, the new regulation introduces the forms for the concentration notification, which are similar to those at the EU level. The new rules provide clearer guidelines on information and documents that must be provided by notifying parties when filing a concentration.
China. On June 13, 2011, China’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) released a draft version of new interim measures relating to China’s merger control regime for public consultation.
The draft Interim Measures on Investigating and Sanctioning Violation of Notification Obligation for Concentration between Undertakings (Interim Measures) detail the steps Mofcom may take to investigate whether a business operator has failed to comply with the mandatory notification obligation that applies to certain transactions under the Anti-Monopoly Law (AML). The Interim Measures also set out the penalties that may apply in such cases.
The US and Chinese antitrust agencies are also expected to sign a cooperation agreement in August 2011 that would notably reduce the risk of the imposition of conflicting remedies in merger cases.
Hong Kong. In June 2011, the Hong Kong government confirmed that the general prohibition on restrictive agreements in the region’s new cross-sector Competition Bill is not intended to be used to challenge M&A transactions, and that the Bill may be amended to reflect this. Concern had been expressed after government representatives stated that the general prohibition would be able to be used to challenge M&As that appreciably restrict competition—notwithstanding that the Bill contains specific merger review provisions that (reflecting previously announced government policy) apply only to the telecoms sector.
According to the current legislative schedule, the earliest the Bill may be passed is the second calendar quarter of 2012.