A draft Merger Review Process Guideline has been issued for consultation today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
"The draft Merger Review Process Guidelines expand upon the ACCC's Guideline for Informal Merger Review, issued in October 2004", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.
"The 2004 guideline has been extremely well-received in terms of explaining how our merger review process works for merger parties who request 'informal clearance' by the ACCC", Mr Samuel said. "The 2004 guideline outlined new processes to enhance timeliness, transparency of process, predictability of decision-making, and procedural fairness with these informal clearance requests.
"The draft Merger Review Process Guidelines issued today expand on the 2004 guideline and outline the ACCC's processes for dealing with all mergers it reviews, including confidential mergers.
"The draft Merger Review Process Guidelines cover not only informal clearance requests but merger reviews initiated by the ACCC. Quite a few potentially anti-competitive mergers are not disclosed to the ACCC by merger parties. The ACCC still discovers such mergers and investigates. The draft Merger Review Process Guidelines clarify the ACCC's treatment of such mergers.
"The ACCC has also taken the opportunity to further improve its efficiency in dealing with mergers, including reduced timeframes and increased transparency of responses to ACCC concerns.
"As with the 2004 guideline, the draft Merger Review Process Guidelines will be responsive to any new developments in the future.
"The ACCC will revise these guidelines if and when new formal merger processes proposed by the government are enacted so that all the ACCC's merger review processes are in a single guideline on merger processes".
A copy of the draft Merger Review Process Guidelines will be available by following the Mergers and authorising anti-competitive conduct link on the ACCC's website (see links below).
The draft Merger Review Process Guidelines focuses exclusively on processes and should be read in conjunction with the ACCC's Merger guidelines (1999) which deal with the analytical and evaluative framework applied to mergers by the ACCC.
A review of the 1999 Mergers guidelines should begin in 2006.
To enable interested parties sufficient opportunity to provide comment on the draft Merger Review Process Guidelines an extended consultation period will apply. Written submissions should be provided to the ACCC by 5 p.m. on 17 February 2006.
For information on the ACCC's processes for granting immunity from legal action under the Trade Practices Act 1974 for certain types of anti-competitive conduct on public benefit grounds, see the Guide to authorisations and notifications, also on the website. The ACCC has undertaken a review of this guide and the expects to issue a draft publication for comment in the new year.
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