France modifies merger control procedure

The modernisation of the Economy Act adopted by the French Parliament in July 2008 significantly modified French competition law and, in particular, the merger control rules. The Act will enter into force once the Government has adopted the implementing regulation and at the latest by 1 January 2009.

Under the current rules, mergers are cleared by the Ministry of Economy while the Competition Council plays an advisory role. Under the new legislation, merger control jurisdiction will be transferred from the Ministry of Economy to the Competition Authority (which will replace the Competition Council). However, the Act provides that if the Competition Authority clears the transaction after Phase 1 review, the Minister may request the Authority open a Phase 2 investigation. In the case of a Phase 2 decision, the Minister can reopen the case on public interest grounds up to 25 business days following the decision.