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