Speculation and analysis of the new Obama Administration's enforcement of merger and acquisition activity is heavy, with most expecting that the new Administration will more closely review the competitive effect of mergers and acquisitions than did the Bush Administration. But not to be overlooked are international agencies that enforce merger and acquisition activity. More transactions have global reach and have become subject to review by non-U.S. agencies. Currently, 115 countries and government entities regulate M&A activity. (The National Law Journal, January 14, 2009) Notable newcomers are China and India.
One of the more aggressive enforcers of competition law is the European Union's competition directorate (known as DG Comp). The EU has blocked, or influenced, several U.S. based transactions, for example, blocking the proposed General Electric - Honeywell merger and initiating anti-monopoly proceedings against Microsoft. Businesses expected and hoped that the current Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, would be more sympathetic to business interests.
But Ms. Kroes has disappointed them and many are looking forward to the end of her term this fall. (Economist, January 10, 2009). So, regardless of what the Obama Administration does with competition enforcement, businesses will also be dealing with an increasing number of non-U.S. antitrust enforcers.