A&L Goodbody, one of Ireland's leading corporate law firms, has conducted its annual review of M&A transactions notified to the CCPC and has found that the numbers reduced in 2016 when compared to 2015.
The Review of Irish Merger Control in 2016, published by A&L Goodbody's EU, Competition & Procurement Group, confirms a 14% decrease in the number of M&A deals notified to the CCPC in 2016 with 67 deals notified to the CCPC last year compared to 78 deals notified in 2015.
The most active sectors for M&A deals notified to the CCPC during 2016 were commercial property, hotels, food & drink and the healthcare/pharma industries.
2016 once again saw a high number of commercial property deals requiring notification to the CCPC with a total of 15 commercial property and hotel transactions being notified to the CCPC. This represents the highest proportion of notified transactions from any one sector and is particularly notable given that these types of one-off asset acquisitions do not generally raise competition issues.
The CCPC did not prohibit any transaction in 2016. This is not unusual and the statistics are in line with international practice. For example, the EU prohibited only one deal in 2016 - its first since 2013. That deal related to mobile telecoms in the UK (Hutchison 3G UK / Telefónica UK).
The CCPC accepted a late notification in one transaction in 2016 and required the merging parties to hold their businesses separately until the CCPC reached its decision on the deal. This is quite novel in Irish merger control practice and may indicate the CCPC's approach to such deals in the future.
In 2016, a complex merger control transaction (i.e. PandaGreen / Greenstar) was resolved with the merging parties committing to the CCPC to divest businesses so as to secure a Phase 2 approval. Offering divestiture commitments can have a material commercial impact on merging parties but also offers a solution where the CCPC is unable to resolve concerns with a transaction under the Irish merger control rules.
Dr. Vincent Power, Partner and Head of EU, Competition and Procurement at A&L Goodbody, comments: "The drop in merger notifications in 2016 may well have been related to the uncertainty generated by Brexit because the drop was very notable in the fourth quarter with a fall from 26 transactions in 2015 to 19 in 2016. While this uncertainty may have slowed down M&A activity in general for the moment, Brexit may not actually have that much of an impact on EU competition. Even if Brexit proceeds, the EU would still have power to block certain deals relating to the UK even after it leaves the EU, meaning Brexit does not mean 'total Brexit'."
Notable deals notified in 2016 included:
PandaGreen / Greenstar
Bon Secours Health System / Barringtons Hospital
Independent News & Media Holdings Ireland Limited / CMNL Limited
For full details on the report, please see our Review of Irish Merger Control in 2016.
Article Published: 10/01/2017