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Italian Competition Authority announces review of ineffective merger control regime one year after previous changes came into effect

    • Competition, EU and Trade - Competition e-briefings


    On 10 February 2014, the Italian Competition Authority launched a public consultation regarding its proposed merger control regime reform to overhaul new legislation that was passed in Italy in 2012, and that only came into force as of January last year.

    The new system requires both the satisfaction of turnover thresholds for all undertakings concerned as well as for the target company. Further, and more importantly, the revised regime sets a minimum turnover figure of €48 million for a target in Italy. What was predicted by many has rung true as the new regime has proved both weak and ineffective, with prominent deals escaping the ICA’s review. The statistics speak for themselves as only 59 concentrations have been examined by the ICA since the new regime has been in force. This is less than a quarter of the average number of examinations under the old regime, which stood at 470 per year.

    Due to the failure of the new regime, the ICA is now proposing to set the minimum Italian turnover threshold of the target at €10 million in an attempt to more closely align the regime with both ICN recommendations as well as other jurisdictions. Respondents have 20 days to give their comments on the proposed regime, and once closed the ICA will formally report to the Italian government with their suggested changes for the framework.

    It is crucial to note that this is just a first step in a possible change to the legislation. The new regime is still in force and will remain the appropriate merger control process, therefore there is no immediate impact for organisations looking to conduct merger activity in Italy.