2018 has been a record year in the mergers and acquisitions market, in Poland as well as in other countries. Also, the competition authorities have blocked many deals. Some experts take this as meaning that the days of quick and easy corporate take-overs may be drawing to a close; companies contemplating major transactions should brace themselves for some hard questioning by antitrust officials.

In 2018, the competition authorities refused to grant permission for 29 notified transactions with an aggregate value in excess of EUR 46.3 billion. In seven of these cases, they refused permission outright, and in 22 they led the parties concerned to abandon the transaction. Moreover, 2018 was also notable for the value of penalties imposed on enterprises which proceeded with mergers in violation of the law. This is the gist of the report on global competition law enforcement trends drawn up by the international law firm Allen & Overy using data from 26 jurisdictions, including the United States, China, and 13 European Union countries, among them Poland, the UK, Germany and France. The reports’ author’s note that competition authorities are becoming more likely to take proposed mergers to phase II proceedings (which entail in-depth assessment of the proposed deal’s effect on competition, in particular based on internal documents) and to impose fines for transgressions against competition law. The authors of the report venture that these tendencies may be a harbinger of increased scrutiny of foreign investments, especially in the digital markets. Many experts seem to believe that the days of quick and easy take-overs are over (...)

More restrictive

The report indicates that 2018 has been a record year in terms of the number of merger and acquisition transactions. When markets consolidate, the enterprises operating in them increase in size, strength and market share. In consequence, any future transactions in such a market are more likely to require antitrust clearance. “The question that begs itself is whether the days of ‘easy’ mergers are over ?  That could very well be, considering the incidence of conditional clearances and refusals to clear mergers issued in 2018”, assesses Bernadeta Kasztelan-Świetlik, partner in GESSEL.