What the ACCC does

  • We assess applications for merger authorisation.
  • We make an administrative decision according to the test and process in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
  • We publish written reasons for our decision.
  • We keep a public register of applications for merger authorisation, submissions received through the process and our decision.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We can’t grant merger authorisation unless we are satisfied that the proposed merger wouldn’t be likely to substantially lessen competition or would be likely to result in a net public benefit.
  • We can’t give legal advice or recommend that an authorisation is necessary.
  • We can’t consider authorisation applications for mergers that are already completed.

On this page

About merger authorisation

Merger authorisation is a formal process

Merger parties can apply to the ACCC for merger authorisation.

Merger authorisation is a formal process under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It’s an alternative to the informal merger review process.

For information on the process and the analytical framework we follow to review applications, see the Merger authorisation guidelines.

Merger authorisation provides legal protection

Merger authorisation helps businesses to manage the competition law risk that can arise when merging or buying another business.

If authorisation is granted, it prevents the ACCC or third parties from taking legal action for a breach of section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 while the authorisation is in place.

There is a test for granting authorisation

We may grant a merger authorisation only when we are satisfied that the proposed merger:

  • isn’t likely to substantially lessen competition, or
  • is likely to result in a net public benefit, where the benefit outweighs any detriment that results.

This is a different consideration from whether the proposed merger would be likely to substantially lessen competition in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Authorisation cannot be granted if the merger has already been completed.

Merger authorisation is a public process

The merger authorisation process is public.

The public version of the authorisation application must contain enough information to allow for consultation on the proposed merger.

Public register of merger authorisations

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

Each entry includes the public version of the application, related submissions by the applicant and interested parties, status and outcome.

Between 2007 and 2017, merger authorisation applications were made directly to the Australian Competition Tribunal. These are listed on the merger authorisations direct to Tribunal 2007-17 register.

The merger parties and interested parties can request that the documents or submissions, or parts of them, be excluded from the public register because they are confidential. A claim for exclusion must be supported by reasons.

For more information, see the Guidelines for excluding confidential information from the public register for authorisation processes.

Contacting 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 raises potential competition issues.

We can:

  • discuss possible competition issues
  • talk about options for the ACCC’s review
  • answer questions about lodging an application for merger authorisation
  • discuss the information and documents that may be relevant to the application.

This may be done on a confidential basis.

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

Steps in the merger authorisation process

The steps in the merger authorisation process include:

1. Pre-lodgement discussions with the ACCC

We encourage merger parties to contact us to discuss their proposal before lodging an application for merger authorisation.

Merger parties are encouraged to provide us with a draft of their application before the discussion.

During the pre-lodgement discussions, we may outline the information and evidence we will likely need to assess the application. We may advise if an extension to the 90 day timetable is needed.

The draft application and the pre-lodgement discussion are confidential and are not placed on the public register.

2. Lodging the application

A valid application for merger authorisation involves:

  • a public version of the application containing information required in the form and enough information to allow public consultation
  • a signed declaration by the applicant that the application is true, correct and complete
  • a signed section 87B undertaking not to proceed with the proposed acquisition while the ACCC is considering the application
  • payment of the lodgement fee of $25,000.

Merger parties need to provide all relevant information and evidence in their application and when requested during the review. Submissions and statements supported with evidence will be given greater weight.

For the application form and more information, see Apply for merger authorisation.

3. Review process

Once we receive a valid application, we:

  • publish the application on the merger authorisations register
  • invite submissions on the application from interested parties
  • conduct our own market inquiries and research, including through our compulsory information gathering powers
  • engage with the applicant through the process. This includes seeking further information and evidence when needed, providing written feedback following market inquiries, and inviting a response to the issues raised in submissions by interested parties.

While we are not required to publish a draft decision in the merger authorisation process, we do engage with the applicant through the process and before making our final decision.

We also expect to provide public feedback prior to making our final decision. Any public feedback will be included on the public register.

Merger parties and interested parties/stakeholders are encouraged to provide relevant information to the ACCC as early as possible in the process.

4. Final decision

In the final decision, we can either:

  • grant authorisation
  • grant authorisation subject to conditions or undertakings under section 87B
  • deny authorisation.

Unless extended, we must make a final decision within 90 days of a valid application being lodged. If we don’t make a final decision within 90 days, the ACCC is taken to have refused to grant authorisation.

The 90-day period can be extended if the applicant agrees in writing before the period expires.

Our ability to make a decision within 90 days depends on the:

  • information and evidence provided in the application
  • complexity of the issues raised
  • whether the merger parties offer a court enforceable undertaking.

We publish written reasons for our decision to either grant, grant subject to conditions or undertakings, or deny merger authorisation.

Merger parties and third parties can seek a review of ACCC merger authorisation decisions by the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Merger authorisation form and fee

A valid application for merger authorisation must be in the form approved by the ACCC and include payment of the relevant lodgement fee.

We prefer that applications are lodged by email at mergers@accc.gov.au. Applications can also be lodged by mail or in person at an ACCC office.

Payment methods

We prefer lodgement fees are paid by electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Account name: ACCC Administered receipts account
Bank: Westpac Banking Corporation
BSB: 032-730
Account number: 146550
Payment narrative: <name of company> <form name, for example Application for Merger Authorisation>

Payment can also be made by:

  • credit card (Visa and Mastercard only) online at ACCC payments
  • cheque made out to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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