Diederik Schrijvershof and Paul Breithaupt have written a blog for M&A Community about the European Commission’s (“Commission”) call to refer ‘killer acquisitions’ to the Commission for review, if such transactions remain below the (turnover) thresholds and would therefore usually not have to be subjected to assessment. The Commission has pulled out an old instrument for this: Art. 22 of the Merger Regulation. Art. 22 Merger Regulation gives national competition authorities the competence to refer problematic mergers, acquisitions or certain joint ventures that do not meet national (turnover) thresholds to the Commission for review.
On April 20th, 2021, the Commission accepted a request under Art. 22 of the French competition authority, which the Dutch competition authority joined in with. The acquisition of GRAIL by Illumina falls below the national and European turnover thresholds, but will now nevertheless be assessed by the Commission. Competition authorities from various EU Member States, including the Netherlands, joined in with the French referral request. The ACM has reported on its website to be pleased with this course of action.
All of this shows that the call of the Commission to review ‘killer acquisitions’ through Art. 22 Merger Regulation, is being put into practice. This change of course with regard to merger control in the EU will have a great impact on the merger and acquisition practice within the European Union. In the blog, Diederik and Paul elaborate on this development.