"2018 has been a year of two halves in M&A activity. Record levels in the first half and considerable contraction in the second. Against rising political concerns about levels of concentration in some industries antitrust authorities have responded strongly to the global appetite for strategic deals which bring about further industry consolidation. They have been unflinching in their merger control scrutiny and robust in their measures for those that do not comply with the rules.

The voices calling for reforms are growing louder in political circles, fuelled by geo-political considerations. At one end politicians have attempted to intervene to allow mergers based on industrial policy or other ill-defined considerations. At the other there are increasing concerns about the effectiveness of merger control in certain sectors.

In 2019 we expect more of the same, with an increased focus on areas of possible reform and continued vigour in enforcement. Throw into the mix the personnel changes at the helm of DG Comp in Brussels and we are set for a fascinating year."

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