The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has resumed its regular merger review operations as it anticipates further easing of the lockdown.
In a resolution dated July 16, the PCC said that it adopted new guidelines for resuming merger processes.
This includes some issuance of orders of payment and collection of filing fees, reviews of notified mergers and acquisitions, and the conduct of investigation, surveillance, and information gathering for these transactions.
Entities with a principal office in an area under general community quarantine (GCQ) or modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) may request to apply these guidelines. The guidelines apply even if only one of the transacting parties are in the mentioned areas.
The guidelines allow the PCC to continue the digital and alternative arrangements for merger reviews and investigations.
The PCC will also consider requests for extension and waivers to give parties time to comply with requirements, given the logistics challenges during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic, Philippine markets will witness changes and restructuring in the form of mergers, consolidations, or even exit of firms. It is during this period that the PCC must watch out through proper merger review for risks of concentration or rise of virtual monopolies to protect consumer welfare,” PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan was quoted as saying in the statement.
Parties to a transaction are advised to use the PCC’s online filing system to minimize health risks. They may file their forms any time after the signing of their definitive agreement, but before any acts of consummation where the 30th day of the notification period falls within the community quarantine period starting on March 13, 2020.
“With the guidelines amid the community quarantine in place, PCC stands ready to enforce its merger review and investigation mandate during this critical period. This ensures that transactions do not substantially lessen competition in the market that might cause higher prices, fewer choices, or lower quality of goods and services,” Mr. Balisacan said.
Expedited review notifications will remain suspended during the GCQ or MGCQ.
The guidelines remain effective for as long as Barangay Bagong Pag-asa Quezon City, where PCC offices are located, is under GCQ or MGCQ. — Jenina P. Ibañez