The Commission launched a public consultation on a number of options for possible future improvements of the EU Merger Regulation in two areas: minority shareholdings and the transfer of cases between the Commission and national competition authorities. As the current Merger Regulation only applies to transactions that lead to an acquisition of control over a company, the consultation raises the question whether the Merger Regulation should be amended to allow the Commission to look at non-controlling minority shareholdings. According to the Commission, non-controlling minority stakes of one firm in another are a widespread phenomenon in many industries. Further, experience has shown that in certain instances the acquisition of a non-controlling minority stake can have a harmful effect on competition and consumers. For instance, if one firm acquires a 20 per cent stake in a competitor in a concentrated market, it may influence the latter’s competitive conduct even without gaining control, e.g. through having a seat on the board, or it may have fewer incentives to compete if it shares the target’s profits. As to case referrals, the consultation seeks views on ways to streamline the case referral system to avoid any delays and further improve its effectiveness. In particular, the consultation considers whether merging parties may notify a case that otherwise would be examined by three or more national competition authorities directly to the Commission. Further, it is considered whether Commission’s review of cases referred to it from one or several national competition authorities could cover the whole of the EEA and not just the territory of the Member State(s) requesting the referral. The Commission invites interested parties to submit comments by 12 September 2013. Source: Commission Press Release 20/6/2013