What the ACCC does

  • We review mergers to determine whether they are likely to substantially lessen competition in breach of the law.
  • We can review proposed and completed mergers under the informal review process.
  • We assess applications for merger authorisation under a formal administrative process.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We can’t oppose a merger for reasons that aren’t competition related, such as community preferences or national interest considerations.
  • We can't oppose mergers in court that reduce competition unless the effect is likely to be substantial.

On this page

Impact of mergers

When a business buys another business or its assets, it can become more efficient and innovative. This can result in benefits for consumers and the Australian economy.

However, mergers can also impact the level of competition that remains in a market. In many cases, this impact will be minimal. But some mergers can substantially lessen competition by reducing the number of competitors and changing the way the remaining competitors behave.

When competition is reduced, consumers can face:

  • higher prices
  • reduced product or service quality
  • less choice and innovation.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 prohibits mergers which are likely to substantially lessen competition in any market.

Notifying the ACCC of a proposed merger

It isn’t mandatory for businesses to notify the ACCC of a proposed merger. However, going ahead without getting the ACCC’s view on a proposed merger risks an ACCC investigation and potential legal action. This may either delay or prevent the merger transaction.

We encourage merger parties to contact us as early as possible when a merger is being considered that may raise competition issues, and well before it is completed.

Merger parties should be aware that some actions they take while anticipating a merger can expose them to legal action for ‘gun jumping’. This is when merger parties start to coordinate their activities or behave as one entity instead of as competitors during the period before the merger is completed. For more information, see Gun jumping risks for merger transactions.

Two ways to have a merger reviewed

Merger parties have 2 ways to seek the ACCC’s view on a proposed merger.

  1. Informal merger review - an informal process where we provide our view on whether a merger is likely to substantially lessen competition. As it is an informal process, the timelines and procedure for the review are not set out in the law and businesses do not receive an exemption from legal action.
  2. Merger authorisation - a formal administrative process with mandated timeframes and transparency requirements. This process gives businesses protection from legal action for the merger. The ACCC applies a different test than in the informal review process. We may only grant authorisation if we are satisfied that the merger would not be likely to substantially lessen competition or that the merger would be likely to result in a net benefit to the public.

Mergers registers

We keep registers of mergers that are subject to a public informal merger review or a merger authorisation. These registers are published on our website.

Public register of mergers

Applications for merger authorisation lodged with the ACCC since 2017 are listed on the merger authorisations register.

A record of all public informal merger reviews that are currently under consideration or have been completed are listed on the public informal merger reviews register.

Registers include information such as indicative timelines for our decision, key issues we are seeking feedback on from interested parties, and the outcome. In the case of merger authorisation, the entry includes written reasons for our decision.

Contact us to discuss a proposed merger

We encourage merger parties to contact the ACCC as early as possible when a merger is being considered and it potentially raises competition issues. We can discuss possible competition issues and review options.

This may be done on a confidential basis.

Contact us by phone on (02) 6243 1368 or email mergers@accc.gov.au.

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