The statutory period for this phase of the investigation is 40 working days. However, prior to launching its investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) received a request from Ladbrokes and Coral for a fast track reference to phase 2. It is possible to accelerate the referral of merger cases to phase 2 when requested by the merging parties and the CMA has sufficient evidence that the test for reference is met.
Under the fast track reference procedure, the CMA’s phase 1 investigation timetable is significantly shortened. The fast track procedure was used most recently in the BT/EE merger investigation.
The CMA has today also issued an invitation to comment on the fast track reference request on its case page and would be keen to hear from any interested party.
If the CMA proceeds with using the fast track procedure it would expect to issue its phase 1 decision within the next 15 working days.
All information relating to the inquiry will be available on the case page.
Notes for editors
The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law.
Under the Enterprise Act 2002 (the Act) the CMA has a duty to make a merger reference, resulting in an in-depth phase 2 merger investigation, if it believes that it is or may be the case that a ‘relevant merger situation’ has been created, or arrangements are in progress or in contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation; and that the creation of that situation has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.
Under the Act a ‘relevant merger situation’ is created if 2 or more enterprises have ceased to be distinct enterprises; and the value of the turnover in the United Kingdom of the enterprise being taken over exceeds £70 million (‘the turnover test’) or as a result of the transaction, in relation to the supply of goods or services of any description, a 25% share of supply in the UK (or a substantial part of the UK) is created or enhanced (‘the share of supply test’).
For the CMA to make a fast track reference to phase 2 it must have evidence in its possession at an early stage of the investigation that it believes objectively justifies a belief that the test for reference is met. In addition, fast track cases are likely to be cases where the competition concerns identified would impact on the whole or substantially all of the transaction, and not just one part (that could be resolved through structural undertakings in lieu of a reference).
All the CMA’s functions in phase 2 merger investigations are performed by inquiry groups chosen from the CMA’s panel members. The appointed inquiry group are the decision-makers on merger investigations.
The CMA’s panel members come from a variety of backgrounds, including economics, law, accountancy and/or business; the membership of an inquiry group usually reflects a mix of expertise and experience (including industry experience).