In Phase 1 merger investigations that it considers raise complex or material competition issues that may merit undertakings or reference to an in-depth Phase 2 investigation the CMA notifies the parties (usually between days 15 and 20 of the investigation) that it intends to discuss the case at an internal ‘Case Review Meeting’.
Companies are often interested in how significant the calling of a Case Review Meeting is for their merger prospects.
In 2021 the proportion of Phase 1 UK merger cases* that were reported to involve a Case Review Meeting was….
….down from nearly 50% in 2020 and the same figure in 2019.
Meanwhile the proportion of these cases that were cleared was…
…up from 35% in 2020 and 34% in 2019 (albeit on a small number of cases).
The underlying number of cases is small and so it is important not to read too much into the year-on-year changes.
Could it be, though, that companies are reacted to the high rate of cases raising problems in 2019 and 2020, by proposing fewer deals with the potential to harm competition in 2021?
Or could we simply be past peak-CMA-toughness?
What do you think? Feel free to post your comments in the box below.
*Measured by Phase 1 decision texts published in 2021
Posted January 27th 2022
This is the latest in my series of short notes looking at UK merger control statistics relevant to companies and investors.