Under the Commerce Act, we can clear a proposed merger if we are satisfied that it is not likely to substantially lessen competition in a market. We compare the likely state of competition if the merger proceeds with the likely state of competition if the merger does not proceed.
We have published Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines to give businesses in-depth information on the laws that govern our merger assessments, the economic and legal analysis we conduct, and the process we follow to make a decision.
Once we have received the application we check it is in the correct form and completed to a sufficient standard to enable us to start investigating. We publish applications forms on the Clearance Register on our website.
Our investigation then involves requesting information and documents from relevant parties, conducting research, and interviewing interested parties.
Once we have collected all the relevant information, we assess whether the merger is likely to substantially lessen competition. If we are satisfied it will not substantially lessen competition, we clear the merger. If we are not satisfied, we must decline to clear the merger.
We publish the reasons for our decisions on the Clearances Register on our website.
Do I need to apply for a clearance?
We encourage parties who are contemplating a merger to seek legal advice, and to discuss their plans with us. While we cannot give ‘informal’ clearances, we can provide guidance on potential areas of concern. If you would like to discuss a potential application, please contact the Competition Manager at email@example.com
Our fact sheets – Mergers and Acquisitions – Applying for a Clearance, and Mergers and Acquisitions – Merger Assessment – explain when and why a business might want to apply to us for clearance of a proposed merger, and when and why a merger has the potential to substantially lessen competition.
What process does the Commission go through?
Once we receive an application for clearance, we form an investigation team, made up of investigators and specialist economic and legal staff. The team gathers information from competitors, suppliers and customers in the industry. Commissioners then decide whether to approve, or not to approve, the proposed merger. For more information on how we assess a merger application, read our fact sheet Mergers and Acquisitions – Merger Assessment.
How long does it take the Commission to make a decision?
Within 10 working days of receiving the application we will provide a proposed decision date for the application based on how complex we think it is and the staff resources available. That timeline can be amended during the process. Any extension to the timeline is discussed and agreed with the applicant.