More than one and half year after the amendments to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (the “AML”) came into effect, the State Council of China approved on December 29, 2023 and published on January 26, 2024 revisions[1] to China’s merger control notification thresholds (the “State Council Order”).[2]

On December 15, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its Revised Leniency Guidelines, which repealed and replaced the 2015 guidelines.[1]  The Revised Leniency Guidelines were adopted as part of the implementation of the “DDADUE” law,[2] the ECN+ directive,[3] and the “Damages” directive.[4]  They aim to provide greater legal certainty for leniency applicants and modernize the leniency application procedure.

On November 8, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) held the G7 Joint Competition Enforcers and Policy Makers Summit (the “Summit”) in Tokyo.  The focus of the Summit was for the G7 competition authorities and policymakers (the “Authorities”) to discuss effective approaches to enforcing and promoting competition in digital markets.  At the Summit, the Authorities adopted the “Digital Competition Communiqué[1] (the “Communiqué”) and updated the “Compendium of approaches to improving competition in digital markets”[2] (the “Compendium”). 

The new draft guidelines depart from decades of practice by introducing novel presumptions that could make it harder for mergers to obtain regulatory clearance from the agencies.

On July 19, 2023, the FTC and DOJ published draft merger guidelines.[1]  Historically, the purpose of these guidelines has been to provide the public, including companies whose transactions are potentially subject to agency review, with information about how the agencies analyze mergers to identify potential competitive harm.  The guidelines have no force of law and are not binding on the courts, though courts have relied on them as persuasive authority to varying degrees.  Past iterations of the guidelines have therefore provided a neutral explanation of the agencies’ approach, including descriptions of the economic tools that they and the courts can use to assess a merger’s likely competitive effects.

On July 5, 2023, the German Parliament (Bundestag) passed the Competition Enforcement Act, amending the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) for the 11th time (“11th Amendment”).  This comes only two and a half years after the last significant amendment in 2021, which granted the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) unprecedented investigative powers.[1]  The 11th Amendment once again equips the FCO with additional enforcement powers.

On 11 July 2023, the UK Government published its second Annual Report on the National Security and Investment Act 2021 (the “Act”).

The Annual Report begins with an introduction by Oliver Dowden MP, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the formal decision-maker under the Act in his role as the Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office.  This introduction seeks to reassure investors that the Act is a “light-touch, proportionate regime that offers companies and investors the certainty they need to do business, while crucially protecting the UK’s national security in an increasingly volatile world.”

On May 26, 2023, the first reading of the Government’s amendment to the draft of the Competition Enforcement Act dated April 5, 2023 (“Government Draft 11th Amendment”) was held in Parliament.  The Competition Enforcement Act will amend the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) for the 11th time.[1]  The Government has proposed further changes to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s draft published in September 2022 (“Draft 11th Amendment”).[2]  This blog post outlines the changes proposed by the government to the Draft 11th Amendment, following on from an earlier blog post on the Draft 11th Amendment (available here).

On June 1, 2023, the Commission published revised Research & Development and Specialization Block Exemption Regulations (“R&D BER” and “Specialization BER”, together the “HBERs”)[1] , as well as revised Guidelines on Horizontal Cooperation (“Horizontal Guidelines”).[2]  The new HBERs exempt certain agreements from the prohibition of Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (“TFEU”), subject to specific conditions, and accordingly create a so-called “safe harbor” for certain forms of horizontal cooperation.  Relatedly, the Horizontal Guidelines aim to guide undertakings in the interpretation and application of the revised HBERs, and thereby in their assessment of “various common types of horizontal cooperation agreements.”[3]

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has identified “roll-up” acquisitions (the acquisition of several targets in the same sector) by financial investors, such as private equity firms, as an enforcement priority.  In this post, we discuss the CMA’s enforcement focus, its recent decisional practice, and implications for merging parties.  The main takeaways are:

On April 20, 2023, the Commission adopted the 2023 Merger Simplification Package (the “2023 Package”) designed to streamline its procedure under the EU Merger Regulation.[1]  In particular, the 2023 Package (1) expands the types of concentration eligible for treatment under the simplified procedure, (2) streamlines the review of both simplified and non-simplified cases, and (3) simplifies the notification process.