UK Merger Stats – Quarter 1 2020

For those of you interested in UK merger control here are some headline facts and figures from the first quarter of the year:

Fourteen Phase 1 cases opened – higher than 2019 but below the Q1 average

  • In previous years, 72% of cases opened in Q1 have gone on to be cleared at Phase 1

Thirteen Phase 1 decisions announced (the highest Q1 number since 2015), comprising

  • 9 unconditional clearances
  • 1 case cleared through remedies
  • 2 references to Phase 2
  • 1 reference to Phase 2 subject to undertakings being offered and accepted
  • On average across these 13 announced decisions –
    • 58 working days from start of formal review to decision announcement, the second highest Q1 figure

Three Phase 2 cases completed, comprising

  • 1 clearance
  • 1 remedy
  • 1 abandoned

One Phase 2 Provisional Finding – SLC

Looking ahead:

Will Q2 see the lowest number of cases opened in any quarter to date (nine), given the slowdown in the number of mergers being taken forward?

Or might we see a spate of mergers involving opportunistic purchases, including the acquisition of distressed firms, given the renewed interest in the so-called ‘failing firm’ criteria?

And finally….

Here is a chart showing the overall pattern of CMA merger decisions in its first six years.