Over the next few months the Australian Government is understood to be releasing Exposure Draft Legislation for changes to the Australian Competition and Consumer Act (CCA), which will include proposed changes to the formal merger and merger authorisation processes.
The Government has also noted that the more commonly used "informal" merger clearance process that is undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) continues to largely operate well in the view of the business community. However, the Government noted that issues of timeliness and transparency are arising when dealing with the more complex and contentious matters. The Government, recognising that this informal merger review process is a creature of the ACCC and not statute (it is essentially a "no action" letter from the ACCC), has recommended to the ACCC that the informal process could benefit from increased consultation and discussion with the business community to address these issues.
By first considering any current or past trends that can be identified from the relevant ACCC data, this briefing then considers the likely changes to the ACCC's informal merger review process and what that means for businesses and their advisers in terms of the operation of the ACCC's informal clearance process and the "pre-assessment" process.