Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, European states have been implementing protections against opportunistic acquisitions of key local businesses by foreign buyers. Most recently, the U.K. announced amendments to the Enterprise Act that will allow the government to intervene when a U.K. business considered important to efforts to combat a public health emergency is the target of a takeover. The government's powers to intervene in mergers also will be increased in three sectors deemed important to national security — artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials.
Courts Rule on Financial Services Antitrust Suits
Apri 7, 2020
Even as courthouse activity has slowed due to COVID-19 social distancing efforts, federal courts in New York handed down significant decisions in four separate antitrust cases involving the financial services industry. These decisions address such recurring issues as standing, personal jurisdiction and the sufficiency of pleadings alleging violations of the Sherman Act.
Merger Review Procedures Undergo Global Modifications
March 30, 2020
Competition authorities across the globe have adjusted timetables for merger review procedures in response to evolving working conditions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. While the State Administration for Market Regulation of China has resumed a near-usual pace, the U.S. Department of Justice has requested that parties add 30 days to existing timing agreements, the European Commission has asked parties to postpone formal notifications, and the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority announced potential extensions of statutory calendars. Most authorities continue to accept merger filings, investigate deals and apply the same substantive analysis of transactions; however, parties should factor delays in merger review into deal timing.
To protect businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission has issued new guidance on screening foreign investments in EU companies and a more lenient approach to state subsidies, while the U.K. and EU member states have likewise adopted measures to protect domestic industry from predatory foreign acquirers and to support it through subsidies. Additionally, relaxed antitrust rules will permit companies to explore new collaborations to manage shortages or joint procurement, but companies must ensure these efforts comply with safeguards preventing collusion and carefully assess any changes to distribution arrangements. Companies must also make sure loans, grants or tax relief fit within the EU revised temporary framework.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads rapidly around the world, member states across the EU are considering government support measures to help companies affected by the crisis to maintain much-needed liquidity. The European Commission stands ready to use the full flexibility of the state aid rules to help member state governments mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. Meanwhile, it encourages merging parties to delay notifications under the EU Merger Regulation until further notice.
COVID-19: FTC Implements Temporary HSR E-Filing System
March 13, 2020
As a result of developments relating to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Premerger Notification Office (PNO) of the Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will implement a temporary e-filing system for Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) filings.