CCI revises guidance note for combination applications

The Competition Commission has revised its guidance note for filing applications seeking approvals for combinations, a move that will help make the review process more standardised. The guidance note to Form I has been revised with a view to incorporate the changes made with respect to the green channel framework. Generally, Form I is used for applications seeking nod for combinations. Under the competition law parlance, mergers and acquisitions are termed combinations. The green channel provides for automatic approval of combinations subject to certain conditions.

“The guidance note provides the scope of information and documents to be submitted along with the form. It also provides clarification regarding eligibility criterion for green channel. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) issues guidance notes for parties to facilitate them to make a filing before it,” an official release said on Saturday. Karan Chandhiok, Partner and Head (Competition Practice) at Chandhiok & Mahajan said the revised guidance note would help in making the review process more standardised. “It lays out the expectations of the CCI from parties in terms of documents, data points and information. Parties filing an application seeking approval for a combination will have to pay more attention in preparing the notice, especially the additional information now sought by the CCI, as it will also help in ensuring that their application for approval is not invalidated,” he said.

In August 2019, the watchdog introduced an automatic system of approval for combinations under green channel and revised Form I. The move was part of ongoing efforts to streamline M&A (Merger & Acquisition) filing process as well as make it simpler. According to Karan Chandhiok, the guidance note assumes significance in the backdrop of proposed changes to the Competition Act, especially on timeline for clearing an application. The bill to amend the Act has proposed that a combination will be deemed approved if the CCI does not give its view in 150 days of filing a notice for approval.

The time period can be extended by a maximum of 30 days to accommodate time taken by parties to file additional information or respond to defects pointed out by the CCI. “Currently, the timeline is 210 days, but in case of defects or if the parties request for additional time, the clock stops (i.e. remains suspended) till such time as the defects are cleared or additional information is provided,” he said. CCI keeps a tab on anti-competitive practices across sectors in the market place and combinations beyond a certain threshold mandatorily require the regulator’s clearance.

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