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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Briefings

Antitrust in China and Across the Region: Quarterly Update October to December 2018

12 February 2019

Key points of interest include the following: 

  • The latest Chinese merger statistics do not suggest that the difficulties in the U.S-China trade relationship have led to a major slowdown in merger activity – 125 cases were reviewed and cleared in the last quarter of 2018, of which all but one (UTC/Rockwell) was cleared unconditionally. The UTC decision followed a lengthy review (nearly a year since its first attempt to file) and was issued a couple of months after the US imposed a narrower set of remedies.  In other merger news, the State Administration for Market Regulation ("SAMR") imposed three more failure to file cases and confirmed that it was continuing to investigate Uber China and Didi Chuxing for failure to notify their 2016 merger.
  • Separately, SAMR also issued a notice authorizing its local counterparts to enforce antitrust rules within their administrative areas, including a discretion to open cases without prior central approval. This will be likely to result in a larger number of investigations than we have seen in the recent past, with a greater diversity in terms of the types of cases brought and the manner in which they are conducted.
  • Outside mainland China, both Australia and Japan issued preliminary reports into their respective inquiries into digital platforms; Singapore hosted the first meeting of the ASEAN Competition Enforcer's Network; Thailand finally implemented its merger control regime, which requires transactions resulting in a monopoly or market dominance to be notified pre-closing; the Philippines issued fines in two cases for various procedural infringements; a report by the Vietnamese Competition Authority found that the Uber/Grab merger should have been notified there; and in Hong Kong, the Competition Commission rejected an application for a decision that the Banking Code is exempt from the First Conduct Rule, but confirmed it had no current intention of pursuing any investigation in relation to the provisions of the Code.

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