By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) has not yet notified the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) of its $2.15-billion acquisition of Holcim Philippines Inc. (HPI), according to the anti-trust body.

“To date, the PCC has not yet received the notification by San Miguel Corp. and Holcim Philippines Inc. for mandatory merger review. PCC reminds merging firms that meet the notification thresholds to notify the Commission of their transaction within 30 days from signing of their definitive agreement” PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a statement.

SMC and HPI announced on May 10 the $2.15 billion deal, which is considered a notifiable transaction under the Philippine Competition Act of 2015.

“With the PCA and the rules of merger procedure in place, every M&A (merger and acquisition) notification will be evaluated in a fair and transparent manner. If there is nothing anticompetitive in a transaction, then the PCC would approve it in a timely manner. If competition issues arise, the law allows for possible remedies to address the concerns,” Mr. Balisacan said.

“As such, any expression of speculation on how the merger review will fare is discouraged. Parties should instead comply and submit notification requirements in accordance with the rules,” he added.

Recently, SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang expressed confidence that the transaction will get the PCC’s approval, noting Holcim only has a 20% share in domestic production and that there remains a strong competition with imports.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez earlier said he expects the deal to result in lower local cement prices, noting competition can still thrive in the market amid the large number of domestic players and continued imports.

Mr. Ang, who has full control of SMC, also owns Eagle Cement Corp. in his personal capacity.

For his part, Mr. Balisacan reiterated that the SMC-Holcim transaction is different from the ongoing investigation on the possible cartel in the cement industry. He noted cartel investigations look into past conduct while merger reviews determine any competition concerns before the transaction is consummated to prevent potential damage to consumers.

“As a whole, the commission balances the concerns of the businesses and the public when reviewing mergers and acquisitions, making sure they will not lessen, restrict or prevent competition for the benefit of Filipino consumers,” Mr. Balisacan added.