What are the recent trends in the approach of the relevant authority to enforcement, procedure and substantive assessment?
Merger Control (4th edition)
The Austrian competition authorities and particularly the BWB are kept quite busy with merger control. As in previous years, the BWB has reviewed many concentrations. In 2018, 481 national filings were made, of which 99.8%, more precisely 480 cases, were already cleared in Phase I. Only in 1 case (0.2%), the BWB applied for a Phase II proceeding. Further, 388 EU mergers were examined by the BWB, which means that, in 2018, the BWB has examined 869 concentrations in total.
As mentioned, particularly in complex cases it can be advisable to hold pre-notification talks with the official parties. In 2018, 26 such talks are reported (which is a significant decrease as compared to the previous year, in which 44 such contacts took place).
With regard to recent enforcement trends, one decision of the Austrian Cartel Court of Appeals – as regards anti-trust public enforcement and merger control, the second and last instance in Austria – should be mentioned, namely the Novomatic case (case no. 16 Ok 11/16b). Although the case concerned an highly regulated industry, the first prohibition decision (by the Cartel Court) has been confirmed.
First, the vast majority of notifications have been cleared without conditions. In the year of 2018, out of the 448 notifications review of which had been concluded, 444 (99%) were cleared without conditions, 4(1%) notifications were cleared with conditions and none of the notified concentration was prohibited. In the first seven months of 2019, out of the 226 notifications review of which have been concluded, 224 (99%) were cleared without conditions, 2 (1%) were cleared with conditions and none of the notified concentration was prohibited.
Second, the efficiency of the review procedures has been increasing. 365 simple cases were concluded in 2018, accounting for 81.5% of all cases (including unconditional and conditional approvals) concluded by MOFCOM and SAMR. The average period of time for completing the review of a simple case (i.e. from initiation to clearance) is 16 days, which is significantly shorter than that in 2017 (24 days on average). 99% of the simple cases have been cleared within Phase I, i.e. 30 calendar days from the initiation.
Third, SAMR apply multiple analytical tools to assess the impact of proposed concentration on market competition. Market shares and the degree of the market concentration are crucial factors to be considered, but other factors like whether the parties participating in the concentration are close competitors are also attached with importance. Furthermore, economic tools such as diversion ratio, correlation coefficient of profit margins and gross upwards pricing pressure index (GUPPI), have been used in a number of cases which were cleared with restrictive conditions.
Fourth, not only structural remedies but also behavioral remedies or hybrid remedies have been imposed on concentration that were cleared with restrictive conditions. Among all the 41 cases cleared with restrictive conditions published by MOFCOM and SAMR by the end of August 2019, 22 were approved with behavioral remedies only, 6 with structural remedies only, and 13 with hybrid remedies.
Last but not least, SAMR strengthen investigations and punishment on failure to notify and late notification. Among the 37 punishment decisions published by the end of August 2019, 19 (more than 50%) were made in 2018 and the first eight months of 2019.
Information exchange has been a recent trend, with the CPC demonstrating a heightened awareness regarding the ability of undertakings controlling a joint venture to acquire business secrets through the joint venture in a manner which could distort competition in the markets in which the controlling undertakings operate.
There has been a trend towards a more economic approach in merger cases, and recent merger decisions from the DCCA illustrate an increasing use of economic evidence, especially in cases concerning consumer-related markets.
Furthermore, there is an increasing tendency among merging parties to withdraw notifications in cases where it seems highly likely that the merger will otherwise be prohibited. Thus, even though the DCCA has only prohibited one merger to date, this tendency may indicate that the DCCA’s approach to assessing mergers is becoming stricter.
Finally, we have seen an increase in the number of merger filings over the last couple of years. In 2018 the DCCA approved 52 mergers which is a small increase from the 49 approved in 2017.
In view of the seven years the Antitrust Law has been in effect and the six years of operation of the SCPM, we may conclude that the majority of economic concentration notifications in Ecuador have been approved by the authority with conditions, and some, around 1%, of the notifications have been denied.
Considering that the SCPM has been operating a little under seven years, the economic concentration system in Ecuador faces many challenges, particularly with regard to educating economic operators about the rules governing this area of the law and the prior concentration notification processes. In this regard, the SCPM has focused on training and has also published a technical guide for analysing economic concentration operations. The guide is a public document containing a clear explanation about how concentrations are examined, the thresholds for notification, definition of relevant market, turnover calculations, offences, sanctions and so on.
The treatment given to foreign-to-foreign mergers is the same as that of a local merger, as explained above.
Especially in terms of concentration indexes, the SCPM has ongoing analyses being performed in the following economic sectors: food, biotechnology, clothing, footwear, energy, pharmaceutical, metal mechanic, transportation, construction, forest timber products, environmental services, technology, automobile and petrochemical.
See the overview.
In terms of enforcement, the FCA has publicly announced that it will pay an even greater attention in the coming years to breaches of the obligation to notify reportable transaction and of the stand-still obligation. The decision rendered recently in the Altice case mentioned above (€80 million of fine) confirms this trend.
In terms substantive assessment and remedies, it is observed that the FCA is increasingly reluctant towards behavioral remedies.
The Period 2017/2018 only brought a total of 14 published phase 2 cases. While some of the cases contain relevant information for certain circumstances, no fundamental shifts in merger control practice took place.
The decision of the FCO not to allow a merger between retailers EDEKA and Kaiser’s Tengelmann was upheld by the Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf in August 2018. The merger had gotten a lot of attention in the media, after the Minister for economic affairs had approved the merger (Ministererlaubnis) after the FCO had issued a negative decision.
The FCO has published documents of high importance. In May 2017, the new remedies guidelines (Leitfaden Zusagen in der Fusionskontrolle) were finished. In July 2018, in cooperation with the Austrian competition authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde), the FCO published a Guidance on Transaction Value Thresholds for Mandatory Pre-Merger Notification for the application of the newly introduced thresholds (available from the FCO-website).
A major development with respect to the CCI’s approach towards enforcement, procedure and substantive assessment has been an amendment to the Combination Regulations by way of a gazette notification dated August 13, 2019. The amendments include:
- Introduction of a ‘Green Channel’ regime (as explained in response to question 20 above)
- Certain amendments to Form I including:
- Limiting the provision of market-facing details (e.g., parties’ market shares, details of top competitors etc.) only in situations where transacting parties/groups have overlapping businesses.
- Disclosure of complementary commercial activities.
- Providing an estimate of the extent of foreign investment, if any, on account of the transaction.
- Providing market share details for three years (as opposed to the earlier requirement of one year) for transaction involving overlaps, along with the additional requirement of explaining the market structure and details of recent entry and exit into the market.
Two recent trends of note can be seen in the CCPC’s approach to merger control.
- First, the CCPC has taken a proactive role of late in monitoring the notification of transactions. An example is Kantar Media/Newsaccess, where the CCPC became aware of the merger through market surveillance and sought voluntary notification of the transaction from the parties. Although the parties informed the CCPC that the transaction fell below the financial thresholds for mandatory notification, a voluntary notification was made as the CCPC was concerned that the proposed merger would result in Kantar Media removing its closest and most substantial competitor from the market. The transaction was subsequently cleared by the CCPC subject to binding commitments. Recently, the CCPC investigated suspected gun-jumping in respect of the acquisition by Armalou Holdings Limited (through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Spirit Ford Limited) of Lillis O'Donnell Motor Company Limited in December 2015. While the transaction was subsequently notified and cleared by the CCPC, in April 2018, Armalou Holdings Limited pleaded guilty in Dublin Metropolitan District Court in Ireland’s first criminal prosecution involving “gun-jumping” in a merger. In May 2019, the second guilty plea followed from Airfield Villas Limited.
- Second, as noted in response to Question 30 above, the CCPC has shown an increasing willingness to accept non-structural remedies to address competition concerns, such as confidentiality and merger notification commitments (Dalata/Clarion Liffey Valley/Clayton Cardiff Lane); a commitment to develop a particular supply business (Applegreen/JFT); and firewall and confidentiality commitments (Uniphar/Sisk Healthcare and Trinity Mirror/Northern & Shell).
There have been several notable trends recently:
- In 2019 the law has been changed to raise the filing thresholds.
- In 2017 the Israeli Competition Authority cut its average review time to 21.4 days. In 2018 the Israeli Competition Authority's average review time was 22.5 days. The average may increase for 2019, since the Israeli Competition Authority will handle fewer mergers due to the increase in the filing thresholds.
- The Israeli Competition Authority seems to make efforts to reduce the review time of mergers that do not raise competitive concerns, including by way of the “Bright Green Merger” procedure mentioned above.
- The Israeli Competition Authority does not hesitate to object to mergers, even when market shares are small but there are few competitors. For example, the Israeli Competition Authority recently objected a merger between two medium-sized banks, even though they have significantly larger competitors.
- The Israeli Competition Authority continues to pursue a policy of vigorous enforcement by means of imposing administrative fines or by consent decrees with a fine component. This applies to both gun-jumping and avoiding notification altogether.
The South Korean economy is highly dependent on innovation-based industries such as semiconductors and information technology (IT) devices, however, there are no specific criteria with regards to such so-called dynamic anticompetitive effects caused by M&A in innovation-based industries. Therefore, in February 2019, the KFTC revised its Guidelines for M&A Review in order to enhance the predictability of companies propelling M&A, while at the same time so that the KFTC could conduct reviews on innovation-based industrial M&A more effectively.
The revised Guidelines includes the provision of:
- the definition of “information assets”;
- the standards for defining the relevant market and assessing anticompetitive effects in reviewing M&A in innovation-based industries;
- the standards for calculating the degree of market concentration in innovation markets; and
- factors for consideration in reviewing M&A on information assets.
The authority has been enforcing competition law severely and it has been playing a significant role in Mexican markets. Severe fines have been imposed and remedies have been implemented in different transactions.
The NCA is more concerned with closeness of competition than market concentration per se. Local markets are often scrutinized and economic analysis is becoming increasingly important. The SIEC test and a consumer welfare standard is applied. The NCA recently approved a concentration based on a pure efficiency gains defense, and although rare, the matter signals that in-depth analysis may be key to obtain clearance in more complicated matters.
The NCA continues to closely monitor structural changes in key sectors, and have with effect from 1 January 2019 imposed a mandatory filing obligation upon a list of specific undertakings for all their mergers and acquisitions, i.e. also below the turnover thresholds, within the following sectors: Fuel, energy, waste, groceries, locksmiths, newspapers and broadband services.
28 March 2019 marked a "milestone" when the NCA, for the first time after the entry into force of the 2004 Competition Act, intervened in alarm services provider Sector's acquisition of a minority shareholding in Nokas (conditional clearance), despite the acquisition not leading to a change of control.
- Change in Size of the Party and Size of the Transaction Thresholds:
- Udenna Corporation, PCC Case No. M-2017-001:
- In re: AXA SA, Camelot Holdings Ltd., and XL Group Ltd., PCC Case No. M-2018-004, Decision No. 30-M-03/2018, 30 August 2018
- The aggregate annual gross revenues in, into or from the Philippines, or value of the assets in the Philippines of the ultimate parent entity of at least one of the acquiring or acquired entities, including that of all entities that the ultimate parent entity controls, directly or indirectly, exceeds Five Billion Six Hundred Million Pesos (PhP5,600,000,000.00) (the “Size of the Party Threshold”);
- The value of the transaction exceeds Two Billion Two Hundred Million Pesos (PhP2,200,000,000.00) as determined by the following factors (the “Size of the Transaction Threshold”):
a. The aggregate assets in the Philippines owned by the corporation whose voting shares are to be acquired or by entities it controls (the “Target Corporation”) exceed Two Billion Two Hundred Million Pesos (PhP2,200,000,000.00); or
b. The Target Corporation’s gross revenues from sales in, into, or from the Philippines exceed Two Billion Two Hundred Million Pesos (PhP2,200,000,000.00); and
c. As a result of the proposed acquisition of the voting shares, the acquiring entity would own Thirty Five Percent (35%) or more of the Target Corporation’s outstanding shares.
- The PCC voided a Philippine conglomerate’s acquisition of shares in a foreign corporation which has Philippine subsidiaries that hold substantial assets for non-compliance with the compulsory notification requirement under the PCA. The PCC also imposed a fine of around Twenty Million Pesos (PhP20,000,000.00). The PCC held for the purposes of the Size of the Transaction Test that the Target Corporation’s shares in “entities it controls are excluded” but the “assets of the controlled corporations are still included in the valuation”.
- The PCC has imposed a multi-million peso fine on a Philippine conglomerate that did not comply with the compulsory notification requirement.
- The PCC imposed a fine of “1/2 of 1% of 1% of the value of the Subject Transaction” for the filing of compulsory notification one hundred twelve (112) days after the execution of the definitive agreement. The fine was imposed even though the merger was later on approved by the PCC.
- The PCC emphasized that compulsory notification may be complied with by filing within thirty (30) days after execution of the definitive agreement and before consummating the merger.
The PCA has defined its 2019 priorities for merger control as follows: i) improving the detection of concentrations implemented in breach of the prior notification requirement; ii) enhancing merger control analysis; iii) reducing the length of investigations in complex cases; and iv) ensuring a better allocation of resources, in order to allow for more efficient and simplified instruction and decision processes.
It should also be noted that both the PCA and the parties, in recent assessments, have been using new economic analyses and tools, in particular where the activities at stake are within regulated sectors such as telecommunications and energy. In those circumstances, there has also been an increased use and involvement of economic consultants.
An important trend is the detailed evaluation of new markets, in particular high technology markets, which were not a subject of FAS’s review in recent years. In addition, FAS comprehensively assesses the potential impact of the transaction on the ancillary markets which are not directly affected by the transaction. Moreover, FAS tends to assess not only the current competition on the market, but forecasts the resulting position of the acquirer on the market after the accomplishment of the transaction.
These new trends in substantive assessment were illustrated recently, when in evaluating the effects of a proposed acquisition by Bayer of Monsanto in 2018, FAS stepped away from traditional methods of analyzing the consequences of economic concentrations on the basis of the cumulative market shares of the merging parties. Instead, this time FAS analyzed possible changes in the relevant cross-border markets and the possible future position of the combined company. The decision rendered by FAS required the merging parties to ensure the effective transfer of selection technology to Russian companies and to provide access to data and platforms that are necessary for digital farming.
Noteworthy, the FAS required Bayer to grant certain Russian companies access to its intel-lectual property via the conclusion of respective license agreements. This was apparently the first time that FAS had demanded that access be granted to intellectual property. In addition, generally the imposition of conditions or restrictions in connection with a merger clearance had happened only on rare occasions in the past.
As of January 2018, the SCA was granted the authority to individually administer decisions in merger control matters. During the year of 2018, the SCA reviewed and assessed a total of 72 concentrations, however, the SCA did not once exercise its authority to prohibit a concentration for completion. The SCA has so far in 2019 only prohibited one notified concentration, which concerned Arla Foods, Norrmejerier and Falkoping's Mejeri’s acquisition of the cheese company Svensk Mjolk. The SCA found that the concentration meant that the buyers could collaborate regarding brand licensing terms and would have more incentive to hamper license conditions.
The barriers to prohibit mergers in Switzerland are high. The turnover thresholds that trigger mandatory notification are already set very high and if a planned merger reaches the turnover thresholds and is examined in an extended investigation (phase II) the creation or strengthening of a dominant position on its own is not sufficient to block the merger; it must also be liable to eliminate effective competi-tion (qualified market dominance, see question 13). As a result, only very few mergers have been pro-hibited to date, such as the planned mergers between Ticketcorner, Tamedia and Starticket or be-tween the telecommunications companies France Télécom SA (Orange) and Sunrise Communications AG; in the latter case, the merged entity would have created a collective dominant position in the mo-bile telephony market together with another non-participating company (Swisscom).
Being limited to the electricity sector, there are not enough authorization requests to define any trend in the practice of INDECOPI. However, it is important to note that during the last three years every transaction has been unconditionally approved by the INDECOPI.
In 2018, the Board has overall assessed 223 transactions and took only one transaction into Phase II review. Only 1.79% of the 223 transactions were decided to be either outside of the scope of Article 7 of Law No. 4054 or not notifiable.
Generally, the Competition Authority pays special attention to those transactions in sectors where infringements of competition are frequently observed and the concentration level is high.
Competition Authority handles transactions and possible concentrations in the Turkish cement and aviation sectors with special scrutiny. There are a number of ongoing investigations in this sector. It would also be accurate to report that the Competition Authority has a special sensitivity to markets for construction materials. In addition to cement, markets for construction iron, aerated concrete blocks and ready-mixed blocks were investigated and the offenders were fined by the Competition Authority.
To the extent that these decisions were also supported by worries over high levels of concentration, it would be prudent to anticipate that the Competition Authority will scrutinise notifications of transactions leading to a concentration in any one of the markets for construction materials.
Additionally, the Competition Authority published a sector inquiry in 2018 for the hazelnut sector and in 2019 for the fair organization/hosting sector.
There have also been major merger control decisions concerning high-value transactions in 2018.
The Board has pronounced its final decision on the Phase II review regarding the transaction concerning the merger of Luxottica Group S.p.A. and Essilor International S.A. As the result of the Phase II Review, the Board has unanimously (01.10.2018, 18-36/585-286) that pursuant to the Article 7 of the Law No. 4054, as the notified transaction would result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position within the meaning of the same article, and significantly impede competition in the market, the notified transaction cannot be approved in scope of Article 7 of Law No. 4054. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the transaction was conditionally approved, in scope of the commitment package submitted which included structural commitments concerning the divestiture of Merve Optik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. (which includes the merged entity not to acquire the rights of distribution of the brands subject to the license agreement between Merve Optik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. and Marcolin S.p.A.) and the behavioural commitments. Similarly, the behavioural commitments will be re-evaluated by the Competition Board at the end of the three-year period.
The Board reviewed the acquisition of sole control over Monsanto by Bayer (8.3.2018, 18-14/261-126). The Board considered that the transaction may result in the creation or strengthening of Bayer’s dominant position and thus, may significantly impede effective competition in the relevant market. It therefore decided to take the transaction into a Phase II review through its decision of May 15 2017. The Board conditionally approved the transaction based on the commitments submitted to the Commission due to the fact that the new transaction would not result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position not significantly impede competition, since the commitments submitted by Bayer would eliminate horizontal and vertical overlaps occurring in the relevant markets in Turkey.
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement that provides for the continued application of EU law following the date of Brexit (see section 36 below), the CMA will assume jurisdiction over any merger that has been notified to the European Commission under the EU Merger Regulation and for which a final decision has not been issued by the Commission on or before the date of Brexit. That could mean significant delays for some mergers, while the CMA initiates and completes its parallel investigation. Consequently, the CMA has been monitoring cases that are notified to the European Commission to ascertain which of those mergers it might be minded investigate and in some cases has allocated case teams to those mergers, in order to minimise the amount of time that it would need to start and complete such investigations.
Procedurally, the CMA is becoming increasingly strict in its approach to incomplete responses to information requests and failures to comply with "hold separate" orders (see section 3) and has issued a number of fines in the past year for breaches of these procedural requirements. As regards information requests, the CMA now routinely checks responses to successive requests to verify whether any of the information provided ought to have been provided in response to a previous information request.
In November 2017, the Parliament of Ukraine amended the Competition Law to deal with notifications by the sanctioned (Russia-related) parties (in force from December 2017). Pursuant to the amended law, the AMCU will reject notifications or drop their review (if such notifications have already progressed into Phase I or II) if the concentration is prohibited by the Law on Sanctions. The AMCU also published guidelines on the issue: the new rules will apply if any of the parties to the concentration (or any individuals or entities connected to them by relations of control) is on the Ukrainian sanctions list; and a particular type of sanctions applies to a given individual or entity (e.g., prohibition on disposal of assets, equity, etc.). Under adverse interpretation, the new rules may apply on a group-wide basis (unlike many of the sanctions themselves) (i.e., where a party is not on the list itself, but belongs to a group controlled by or controlling the sanctioned individuals or entities).
The thresholds and procedures established in the beginning of the 21st century are outdated and do not comply with the current demands in part of ensuring the effective balance between the necessity of merger control and monopolization of the market, on the one hand, and expenses and administrative restrictions imposed on business under such procedures, on the other hand.
The need to change the current approaches to merger control was also envisaged under the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement.
In 2017, the AMCU launched public consultations on the draft Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines. The relevant document was adopted by the authority in early 2018. It is largely modelled after the EU Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines and will complement the existing Guidelines on Horizontal Mergers.
Vertical Merger Scrutiny
The FTC and DOJ under the Trump Administration have largely stayed consistent with past Republican administration’s approaches to antitrust merger enforcement. There have been a few notable departures, including – to the surprise of many in the antitrust bar – the DOJ’s challenge of the AT&T Inc./Time Warner Inc. vertical merger in November 2017. This was the first fully-litigated challenge to a vertical merger in the US in 40 years. Because of the significant efficiencies that often result from vertical integration, vertical mergers, unlike horizontal mergers among competitors, do not typically raise competitive issues. In the past, the antitrust agencies either allowed vertical mergers to proceed without action or resolved these mergers with conduct (behavioral) remedies. The DOJ in this case lost in federal district court and the Appeals Court also ruled in favor of the merging parties. In contrast to the AT&T Inc./Time Warner Inc. challenge, the DOJ has cleared (with divestitures) large transactions with primarily vertical dimensions. For example, the DOJ settled the largest negotiated merger divestiture ever in May 2018 when it required Bayer AG to divest business and assets worth $9 billion in order to consummate its proposed $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co. In October 2018, the DOJ cleared Aetna Inc.’s acquisition of CVS Health Corp. for $69 billion, determining that the vertical issues were unlikely to harm competition. In January 2019, the FTC also cleared the nearly $483 million Staples Inc./Essendant Inc. transaction with the limited behavioral remedy of creating a firewall between the two companies.
State Antitrust Enforcement
State antitrust merger enforcement has become increasingly active, with states challenging mergers even absent any action undertaken by the federal antitrust agencies. For example, on June 30, 2017, the California Attorney General sued to block the acquisition of two Northern California bulk petroleum terminals, despite the FTC declining to take action. Ultimately, the merging parties abandoned the deal. Additionally, in July 2019, the DOJ cleared the $26 billion acquisition of Sprint Corp. by T-Mobile US Inc.; however, as of September 2019, a number of state attorneys general continue to challenge the transaction in court.
In recent cases of in-depth investigation, the ICA confirmed its preference for structural remedies (see, e.g., the ICA’s decision of July 17, 2019, Case C12231 - BPER BANCA/UNIPOL BANCA). In case C12207 - SKY ITALIA/R2 (decision of May 20, 2019), the ICA imposed however behavioral remedies for a period of 3 years in order to restore competition in the market following the implementation of the transaction by the parties (prior to obtaining clearance). These remedies consisted of a ban for the Sky Group to acquire exclusive broadcasting rights for audiovisual content and linear channels for internet platforms in Italy.
In most cases the HCC’s assessment of concentrations results in unconditional clearance. Nonetheless, over the past decade the HCC has been imposing various structural or behavioral measures as a precondition of clearance in specific transactions, where serious competition concerns are raised. For the period from 2015 to 2019, the HCC imposed commitments in five cases, aiming at reinforcing competition in the market. For instance, in 2017, the HCC cleared the acquisition by the Sklavenitis supermarket chain of entities/parts of the Marinopoulos supermarket chain, both chains being among the most important supermarket chains in Greece, subject to behavioural and structural commitments (divestiture of supermarket stores in specific areas) (HCC 637/2017), while in 2018 the HCC granted clearance on a major concentration in the ferry market (acquisition of Hellenic Seaways by Attica Group) upon behavioural and structural commitments facilitating the access of potential competitors to ferry routes where the acquired entity was dominant.
Prohibition of a concentration is uncommon. In particular, only one prohibition decision has been issued by the HCC, in 1996, and it was reversed by a decision of the competent ministers at the time (HCC 40/1996).
It should also be noted that in the aftermath of the financial crisis in Greece, the HCC has cleared acquisitions in the framework of privatization programmes in the Greek market. In 2016, the HCC cleared without remedies the acquisition by Fraport of 14 Greek regional airports under concession agreements (HCC 626/2016) as well as the acquisition by COSCO HK of sole control over the Piraeus Port, subject to commitments (HCC 627/2016), whereas in 2013 the HCC cleared the acquisition by OPAP, the Greek monopoly of the exclusive license to operate state lotteries for a period of twelve (12) years (HCC 573/vii/2013).
Moreover, the HCC played a prominent role in overseeing a thorough restructuring of the Greek banking system, ensuring both the timely recapitalization of major systemic banks as well the economic viability of the industry as a whole through a series of concentrations. Since 2012, the HCC assessed a number of concentrations in the banking sector , mainly six mergers between Greek credit institutions with surving entities the four Greek systemic banks (National Bank of Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank).
The HCC also cleared in a Phase II process and after accepting specific remedies the concentration between two of the above systemic banks, but the transaction was later aborted (HCC 562/VII/2013).
To our knowledge, the HCC has not recently issued prohibition decision, although during the period from 2015 to 2019 it has imposed fines for failure to notify and for gun-jumping in two cases.