Good Times Return? Second Highest Number Ever of M&A Deals Notified to the European Commission
2017 saw the second highest ever annual number of notifications of M&A deals to the European Commission under the EU's Merger Control Regulation since the Regulation entered into force in 1990.
In 2017, there were 380 deals notified to the European Commission under the Regulation. The highest annual number of notifications ever was in 2007 when 402 deals were notified. Since the Regulation entered into force in 1990, there has been an average of 243 notifications each year meaning that 380 notifications in 2017 was quite an increase (in percentage terms, a 56% rise).
Of the 380 notifications in 2017, Phase Two proceedings were initiated in the case of seven notifications. During 2017, there were two prohibitions and nine notifications withdrawn. The two prohibitions were: (a) the proposed merger between Deutsche Börse and London Stock Exchange and (b) HeidelbergCement and Schwenk's proposed takeover of Cemex Croatia. These two prohibitions brought the number of prohibitions under the Regulation to 27 (out of 6805 notifications).
During the year, there had been 27 notifications to the European Commission referred back to EU Member States with 13 referred in full from the European Commission (i.e., the deal was decided on by a Member State competition agency but not the European Commission) and 14 were referred in part (i.e., part of the deal was decided on by the European Commission and part by a Member State competition agency).
There was one decision by the European Commission under the Regulation during 2017 to impose a fine for a procedural breach under the Regulation. On 18 May 2017, the Commission imposed a record fine of €110m on Facebook for providing incorrect/misleading information to the Commission during the review of Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp under the Regulation.