Thursday, April 15, 2010
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Peter L. Ormosi, ESRC Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia describes the Suspension of EC Merger Investigations: For Better or Worse.
ABSTRACT: This paper looks at the main source of procedural delay in EC merger cases, the suspension of investigations. Although the ECMR refers to the suspension of investigations as an exceptional instrument, it is used in a high proportion of cases. As the ECMR does not set a time limit for suspension, it can lead to significant delay in the assessment of mergers. To understand the causes of delay, this article relies on the fact that the suspension of the investigation is a consequence of merging parties’ failure to provide the necessary information to the Commission. Two main causes of this behaviour are identified. Firstly, merging parties may decide to intentionally withhold information in order to cause the suspension of the investigation, which allows them more time to do whatever is necessary to avoid a lengthy second phase investigation. Secondly, failure to provide the required information to the Commission may be a result of merging parties’ negligence towards the regulatory assessment of their merger. Whereas the first case may be socially beneficial, identifying the second type of behaviour may help in filtering out inefficient mergers.