On 21 July 2017 the Mergers and Acquisitions Office of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) announced that it has opened a Phase II review of Alipay Singapore Holding Pte. Ltd.’s proposed acquisition of shares in Globe Fintech Innovations, Inc., a company incorporated in the Philippines. The decision to move to Phase II was made on 27 June 2017. This is the first Phase II review to be conducted by the PCC since the merger control regime took effect in June 2016.

Alipay operates a third-party payment service platform and is part of Ant Financial Group, which operates data and technology platforms to provide digital financial services to consumers and small merchants. Globe Fintech provides fintech solutions, including micropayment and tech-based lending services, to consumers, merchants and organisations.

Following a Phase I review period of 30 calendar days, the PCC decided to continue its inquiry to investigate, among other things, whether the transaction would lead to a loss of competition and foreclosure of competitors in the market for electronic money payment and related services, and whether the transaction would increase the likelihood that competitors providing electronic money payment and related services will coordinate their behaviour or strengthen existing coordination in a manner that harms competition. The PCC has a period of 60 calendar days to conduct a Phase II review. The PCC cannot ‘stop the clock’ as a means to extend its review period, but it does have the power to grant extensions at the request of the parties; in this case, the PCC has granted a seven-day extension of the Phase II review period pursuant to Alipay’s request.

In its statement, the PCC pointed out that the commencement of a Phase II review does not indicate that it has made a judgment on whether there has been a substantial lessening of competition, but it merely indicates that a more detailed analysis is needed based on further information from the notifying parties.