International merger control – is there a new sheriff in town?

The UK Competition and Markets Authority flexes its muscles.

Over the past 20 years, parties planning substantial deals requiring international merger control clearance have become used to planning for the risk that the US, EU or increasingly the Chinese antitrust authorities might put a substantial spoke in their wheels or even prohibit their proposed deals. Other national jurisdictions such as Brazil or Canada have also on occasion been troublesome but the “three majors” causing the most difficulty over the last decade have clearly been the US, the EU and China. 

The regulatory news for multinationals and their advisors is that it now looks like there is a “new sheriff in town”. The UK Competition and Markets Authority has been gearing up for a life after Brexit with a clear vision of its role at the top table of merger control enforcers. In the last 18 months, its investigations have led to the blocking or contributed to the collapse of a significant number of international deals where the UK activities of the parties were minor. 

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