UNIONBANK of the Philippines, Inc. has not yet notified the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) of its acquisition of the local consumer unit of Citigroup, Inc., the antitrust body said on Tuesday.

The PCC also reminded the Po family-led Century Pacific Food, Inc. of the notification requirement regarding its acquisition of Ligo Sardines.

Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures, Inc., also a Po family-led company, disclosed on Dec. 24 that it was also acquiring food kiosk operator Potato Corner. According to the PCC, the group has yet to notify the commission of the acquisition.

“Given the P50-billion thresholds qualification, the parties are encouraged to conduct due diligence to check if they meet the thresholds for compulsory notification, or to steer clear of any competition issues by undergoing voluntary notification in case they do not meet the thresholds,” Krystal T. Uy, director of the PCC Mergers and Acquisitions Office, said in an e-mailed statement.

“Parties are allowed to file their notifications before consummation, in PCC’s consideration of waiving the usual notification period of 30 days upon signing of definitive agreement, due to the pandemic,” she added.

At the same time, the antitrust body also pointed out that transactions of this nature “may very well indicate the outset for economic recovery or post-pandemic restructuring.”

UnionBank announced last week that it would buy Citi’s local consumer unit for P55 billion.

The transaction would include Citi’s credit card, personal loans, wealth management and retail deposit businesses in the country, the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

The acquisition also includes Citi’s real estate interests in relation to Citibank Square in Eastwood, three full-service bank branches, five wealth centers and two bank branch lites.

“While change of ownership of well-known brands means efficiency or expansion for former competitors into partners, this also means consumers may be faced with fewer choices and possible changes of price points,” PCC’s Ms. Uy said.

“As the antitrust authority, PCC’s merger reviews will ensure that the transactions do not lead to substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets,” she added. — Arjay L. Balinbin