The simplified merger notification benefits operations that are not likely, at first sight, to raise competition concerns. It is notably applicable to :
- the food distribution sector, provided that the operation does not lead to a change of brand name of the acquired retail store(s) ;
- the automobile distribution sector; and
- operations (in any sector) without horizontal overlap or vertical or related links, which notably concerns operations lead by investment funds.
For this type of simplified cases, the FCA renders decisions within the shortened time frame of three weeks, rather than the five weeks that it takes for mergers in phase 1. The information required for notification has also been recently reduced, so as to make it easier for the companies to complete a notification file.
To date, 50% of the notification files have been simplified cases. This new procedure is part of a more general set of measures announced in June 2018 by the FCA to simplify merger control rules, including the widening of the scope of the simplified merger notification to an expected 70% of the cases, which will therefore potentially benefit from this dematerialised procedure in a near future.
More than ever, gun jumping is not an option. Contacting your lawyer for a merger control review is the safest route to compliance and, as from now, is also a relatively fast one.