23 December 2019
Key points of interest include the following:
- In China, this quarter saw the return of hold separate remedies as a condition to merger approval. Two deals were conditionally cleared on this basis, in each case requiring the buyer not to integrate the target business and including some commitment to supply Chinese customers in the interim. In one of these cases, the hold separate provisions will automatically expire after two years. The other case was notable as an example of a clearance (albeit conditional) of a merger between two US-based technology companies at a time when technology is at the forefront of the long running US-China trade dispute.
- Technology and data remain a key priority elsewhere in APAC too. In Japan, the JFTC recently issued a report into data-driven alliances and draft guidelines on the misuse of data on digital platforms and has requested additional funding to establish a special unit to look at data-related issues. This echoes the conclusions of the ACCC’s final report into digital platforms, published in July and containing recommendations to establish a specialist digital unit as well as to revise Australia’s merger rules, adopt a protocol for mandatory notification by large digital platforms and allow Android users to freely choose search engines and internet browsers.
- This quarter has also seen a larger than usual number of fines imposed, led by Japan where the JFTC issued its largest ever fine of JPY 39.9 billion (USD 380 million) on eight members of an asphalt cartel and a JPY 25.7 billion (USD 244 million) fine in relation to a cartel for beverage cans. In India, the Digital Communications Commission approved a provisional fine of INR 30.5 billion (USD 442 million) on two telecoms operators regarding interconnection with a new entrant and in Australia, shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha was fined AUD 34.5 million (USD 23.4 million) for engaging in a cartel to fix the prices of shipping vehicles into Australia.
- Finally, this quarter saw change at the top in South Korea, where Ms Joh Sung-wook was appointed chairperson of the KFTC and in Singapore, where, following the expiry of Toh Han Li’s term in office, Ms Sia Aik Kor has become the new chief executive of the CCCS.