The Commission has a standard application form (PDF) for clearances. The form contains information about the application procedure and cost, and when completed, will provide the Commission with critical information to inform its analysis. Once the completed form is received with payment, the Commission then commences an investigative process including research and interviews with competitors, customers, suppliers and interested parties to the proposed acquisition.
Once the Commission has collected all the information relevant to the acquisition, it conducts legal and economic analysis (as outlined in the Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines) to establish whether the transaction is, or is not, likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition. If the Commission cannot be satisfied that the acquisition would not result in a substantial lessening of competition it must decline clearance. If the Commission declines clearance, parties have the right to appeal the Commission's decision to the High Court.
The Act specifies that the Commission should reach a decision on a clearance within ten working days of its receipt, or a longer period as agreed with the applicant. The Commission's target timeframe for reaching decisions on clearances is 30 working days for routine cases and 60 working days for complex cases. The actual timeframe is highly variable, dependent on the complexity of the clearance in question and the Commission's workload.
The Commission issues full written reasons for all its clearance decisions, as soon as possible after making its decisions. The Commission's priority is to make clearance decisions as swiftly as possible, to give businesses certainty, ahead of producing written reasons. This means it often takes several weeks for written reasons to be published after a decision has been made.
The Clearances Register contains a full list of all applications for clearance received by the Commission, along with written reasons for the Commission's decisions.
The Commission appreciates advance notice of clearance applications. If you intend to apply for clearance, please contact the Commerce Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help you understand the clearance process the Commission publishes fact sheets and guidelines.
Fact sheets are easy-to-understand summaries of essential information. The clearance fact sheets include:
This fact sheet explains when and why a business might want to apply to the Commerce Commission for clearance of a proposed merger.
This fact sheet explains when and why a merger has the potential to substantially lessen competition in a market. It is designed to give businesses an understanding of how the Commerce Commission assesses mergers.
Guidelines provide in-depth information about rules and practices relating to clearances.
Update: The Commission is currently consulting on revised draft Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines. More information can be found on the Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines page.
The clearance guidelines include:
The Commission is considering updating its Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines, which were published in 2003.
The Commission is responsible for assessing applications for clearance from businesses seeking to acquire or merge with competitors. These applications are voluntary.
Mergers perform an important role in the market and can bring benefits to the economy, such as enabling businesses to achieve economies of scale and scope.
The Commerce Commission (Commission) sometimes receives applications for clearance that claim an otherwise anti-competitive merger or acquisition should be cleared by the Commission because one or more of the parties is failing, or has a failing division, and its assets will otherwise leave the market.
This guidance clarifies the costs implications for parties who take legal action to challenge a determination issued by the Commission.