Ireland has now implemented the directive on procedural rules and evaluation criteria for the prudential assessment of acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector (Directive 2007/44/EC - known as the Acquisitions Directive).

The aim of the directive is to ensure the consistent handling of requests for the approval of mergers/acquisitions by financial regulators across the EU. It does this by aligning the process for the approval of acquisitions in the financial sector by financial regulators. The directive also aims to improve clarity and transparency in the supervisory assessment process itself.

It applies to the acquisition of credit institutions, insurance undertakings, reinsurance undertakings, investment firms (authorised under MiFID) and UCITS Managers. The directive has been implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Assessment of Acquisitions in the Financial Sector) Regulations 2009, which modifies the existing framework in relation to:

  1. the thresholds for notification and the way voting rights are aggregated and disaggregated (the relevant provisions of the Transparency Directive are to be taken into account in relation to the acquisition of any of the above Institutions);
  2. the procedure to be applied by the Financial Regulator when assessing acquisition; and
  3. the assessment of the suitability of a proposed acquirer