How The CMA Merger Numbers Are Made Up

There’s been a big overall decline in the percentage of CMA cases cleared unconditionally (at Phase 1 or Phase 2)* in recent years.

It’s been much commented on and interpreted.

But it’s not quite what it seems when you look behind the headline numbers.There are very different patterns when looked at by case type.

In fact, arithmetically at least, the aggregate change is accounted for by just one type of case.

Here’s the overall pattern for 2019 and 2020 cases, with the size of the different elements proportional to the number of outcomes in each category – where

  • green = unconditional clearance at Phase 1 or 2
  • yellow = remedies at Phase 1 or 2
  • red = prohibited or abandoned …….

Source: Adrian Payne analysis of published CMA decisions

It illustrates how important it can be to look behind the aggregate numbers when considering past or potential case outcomes and when interpreting ‘trends’ in the aggregrate numbers.

In one of my next Merger Insight briefings I’m going to be discussing the reasons behind these patterns and what they mean for companies planning mergers.

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(* Percentage of publically-investigated cases. Takes no account of cases the CMA chooses not to investigate publically, on which no meaningful data are published.)

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