On 2 April 2013 the Italian Antitrust Authority published the new turnover thresholds: a concentration must be notified to the IAA when (i) the Italian aggregate turnover of all undertakings concerned exceeds Euro 482 million, and (ii) the Italian turnover of the Target exceeds Euro 48 million.
As in every year the Italian Antitrust Authority has updated the turnover thresholds. But this year the change comes within a new regime which entered into force on 1 January 2013. A a concentration must now be notified when:
- the Italian aggregate turnover of all undertakings concerned in the previous financial year exceeded Euro 482 million, and
- the Italian turnover of the Target in the previous financial year exceeded Euro 48 million.
The cumulative nature of the thresholds has already had a dramatic impact on the number of the concentrations reported to the IAA. In February 2013 the IAA issued 6 decisions on concentrations notifiable under the new regime, whereas in February 2012 the number of decisions on reportable concentrations was 37.
This decrease in the concentrations notified to the IAA should be welcomed. Under the old regime many concentrations had to be notified even where they had no effects on Italian market, including pure foreign to foreign transactions where the Target had a negligible turnover in Italy.
In a recent interview, the IAA Chairman Mr. Pitruzzella expressed his satisfaction stating that «The reform reduces the amount of paperwork and allows us to free up resources for more important activities, such as the repression of hard-core competition infringements».
However, there is a concern that concentrations raising significant competition issues especially in local markets will fall outside the scope of the application of the new merger control regime. It has been noted that out of the 22 concentrations investigated and closed with a prohibition decision or authorization subject to conditions in the last eight years, as many as 6 would not be reportable under the new regime.
It remains to be seen whether interested parties will be able to successfully challenge concentrations falling outside the scope of application of the Italian merger control rules but still conferring on the new entity a position of significant market power on the basis of the theories of harm established before the entry into force of Regulation (CEE) No. 4064/89 (as in C 6/72 Continental Can and C 142 -156/84 Bat).