7.5% increase in merger and acquisition notifications to the CCPC in 2017

January 3, 2018

  • Transactions notified involved an estimated aggregate turnover of €56 billion within the State
  • Motor fuel and Information and Communications most prominent sectors
  • Formal commitments required for clearance of four transactions

The number of mergers and acquisitions notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) increased by 7.5% last year, according to the organisation’s Mergers and Acquisitions Report for 2017. Under Irish law, businesses which meet certain financial thresholds must notify the CCPC about a proposed acquisition or merger before it can take effect. The report, which was released today, details the CCPC’s merger review activity during 2017.

Commenting on the report, Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the CCPC said:

“In 2017, we saw a further increase in the number of transactions notified to us for examination. While we did not prohibit any proposed transactions, we did, after extensive analysis, require formal commitments for the clearance of four transactions. Without these commitments, competition would have been adversely affected in a number of markets.

Our role in reviewing mergers and acquisitions is to ensure that proposed transactions do not substantially lessen competition in any market within the State. This is a vital safeguard in maintaining Ireland’s ability to compete in global markets. Competitive markets where businesses can compete and consumers can exercise choice are a key driver of productivity, innovation and long-term growth.”

Key insights contained in the CCPC’s Mergers and Acquisitions Report for 2017:

  • 72 mergers were notified in 2017 (a 7.5% increase from 2016)
  • 68 determinations were issued, four of which required commitments
  • Transactions notified in 2017 involved an estimated aggregate turnover in Ireland of €56 billion
  • Motor fuel and Information and Communications were the most prominent sectors
  • Four media mergers were notified – the Color Company TM/Certain assets of Irish TV; Landmark Digital/BenchWarmers; Bay Broadcasting/Classic Rock Broadcasting t/a Radio Nova; Irish Times/Irish Examiner
  • On average, over the course of 2017 the CCPC took 24 working days to issue a Phase 1 Determination – a reduction of 2 days on the 2016 figure.

Ms Goggin also cautioned that, along with compelling businesses to notify, competition law also allows the CCPC to intervene where a proposed transaction may not be notifiable but may have a significant negative impact on competition.

“In addition to assessing mergers notified to us, we undertake our own market surveillance. Through this surveillance, we became aware of a proposed transaction whereby Kantar Media was intending to purchase Newsaccess Limited in February 2017. Although the proposed transaction fell below notifiable financial thresholds, we were concerned that Kantar Media would be essentially removing its closest and most substantial competitor in the market. Following considerable engagement with the CCPC, the parties made a voluntary notification and were required to provide commitments, including the selling of assets to enable a new competitor enter the market. I am delighted to see that the buyer has since commenced trading and competition has been safeguarded in this market.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind businesses and their legal representatives that you are legally obliged to establish whether any merger or acquisition you undertake falls within the thresholds set out under competition law. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and failure to comply can have serious consequences. Should we have concerns about a transaction, whether it is notifiable or not, we will take appropriate action to ensure that competition is not substantially lessened by any merger or acquisition.”

A copy of the CCPC’s Merger & Acquisition Report for 2017 is available on ccpc.ie or by clicking here.

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