Strong numbers from early 2014 did not hold up
After posting a record three merger notifications in January, the COMESA Competition Commission has seen its M&A filing statistics decline to zero in February and merely one in March.
As we have reported here (optimistic for 2014) and here (pessimistic on 2013 statistics), COMESA’s notified M&A deals have seen erratic ups & downs. Not surprising, perhaps, if one considers the exquisite confusion that has reigned since the inception of the young antitrust authority about filing thresholds and fees.
The current ebb in notified deals (despite the record set in January) reflects, in our view, the impending end of the current “zero-threshold” regime in COMESA, which was foreshadowed by The CCC’s head of mergers, Willard Mwemba, back in late February 2014. Quite understandably, parties to ongoing transactions are willing to risk “flying under the radar” if the agency has de facto admitted that the zero-dollar filing threshold is unworkable in practice.
We are curious to see what impact the vacuum of the pending revision to the COMESA merger rules will have on filing statistics going forward, until a more sensible threshold is set by the agency. For now, with the latest notification #4/2014 (fertilizer and industrial products acquisition by Yara International ASA of OFD Holdings Inc.*) the stats look like this:
* we note that in the notice, the CCC erroneously set the deadline for public comment prior to the notice date itself, namely as “Friday, 28th February, 2014.”