The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has reported a sharp increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) it dealt with last year.
The watchdog’s M&A report for 2021 shows that 81 mergers were notified to it – almost double the figure recorded in 2020.
“To some extent, this increase may represent a catch-up from the contraction in activity during 2020, but it is clear the appetite for merger activity has been very strong in Ireland in 2021,” said commission member Brian McHugh.
He added that the experience in Ireland mirrored the wider global trend of increased levels of deal-making in the last year.
The commission had made determinations in 74 of the 81 cases by the end of 2021. Five of these required a second-phase investigation – including three in the banking sector.
Referring to the banking deals, McHugh said: “These have the potential to fundamentally impact on what is a key sector for the Irish economy, and the CCPC has dedicated significant resources to ensuring these notifications are carefully considered.”
In three deals last year, the watchdog required the parties involved to make commitments to address competition concerns. These included the sale of assets, and behavioural commitments such as restricting the sharing of information.
One merger that raised competition concerns – involving Australia’s Link Group and Pepper’s Irish business – was withdrawn by the parties.
The commission said that it reduced the average time for a determination on a non-extended Phase 1 investigation from 22.9 working days in 2019 to 20.2 days in 2021.
McHugh said that the watchdog expected clarity this year on what changes in merger legislation would come into effect. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment held a consultation last year on the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2021.