The number of mergers notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) last year fell by 13% as COVID-19 restrictions affected business and economic activity.
The CCPC’s 2020 statistics show that 41 mergers were notified to it in 2020. 15 of these needed an extended initial review, while two required a phase two investigation.
The commission issued 43 determinations, with one of these requiring commitments to secure approval. This referred to a deal which gave CVC Funds a 28% stake in PRO14 rugby.
The commission said it took, on average, 22.9 working days to issue a determination on standard first-phase investigations.
In March, in response to the pandemic, the CCPC put a number of measures in place to ensure that it could continue to review notified mergers and acquisitions.
These included accepting electronic notification of mergers, where forms could be completed and returned by email, and reviewing mergers almost entirely through remote working.
The body also obtained designation as a statutory body that can conduct remote oral hearings in phase two mergers.
European digital focus
The commission also introduced a simplified notification process, aimed at reducing the time and resources business needed to devote to the procedure, on 1 July last year. It has so far cleared seven mergers under the new system, taking an average of 13.4 working days to issue a phase one decision.
CCPC member Brian McHugh said the body had engaged with its European counterparts, particularly on measures to deal with issues in the digital sector.
“The CCPC expects that the potential impact of some of these issues on the merger review regime will become clearer in 2021 and beyond,” he said.
Under competition law, business must notify the CCPC about a deal if the total turnover in the state of the businesses involved is not less than €60 million and the turnover in the state of each of two or more of the businesses involved is not less than €10 million.