The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released the ACCC’s Informal Merger Review Process Guidelines 2013. This follows a consultation process on a draft of the Guidelines with key stakeholders in July, including detailed discussions with the Law Council of Australia.
“The Informal Merger Review Process Guidelines have been updated to reflect important recent developments in the ACCC’s approach to merger reviews, as well as incorporating some additional changes aimed at improving efficiency and transparency,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The changes in ACCC processes in recent years that are now covered in the Guidelines include:
- The relatively new pre-assessment process the ACCC has developed for dealing quickly with the large number of non-contentious mergers notified to it. The benefit of this is that the ACCC is able to concentrate its efforts on those mergers which raise more significant concerns under section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
- The process by which merger parties are provided with feedback on issues and concerns raised by the market during a public merger review.
- A clarified approach to releasing Public Competition Assessments, which are the published summaries of the ACCC’s reasons for its decisions in complex or contentious merger matters.
“While the Guidelines indicate a move away from setting standard periods for all public reviews, the ACCC expects that the majority of merger reviews in which substantive competition concerns do not arise will still be completed within eight weeks,” Mr Sims said.
“Other changes have been introduced to facilitate a better understanding of the status of each merger assessment by including additional detail on the mergers public register about the stages involved in merger reviews, including reasons for any delays,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC publishes Informal Merger Review Process Guidelines to provide businesses and legal practitioners with guidance on the ACCC’s approach to informal reviews of mergers and acquisitions pursuant to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The ACCC’s informal review process allows businesses to seek the ACCC’s view on whether mergers and acquisitions would be likely to substantially lessen competition in breach of section 50 of the Act.
The Informal Merger Review Process Guidelines were first published in 2004 and were last subject to significant revision in 2006.