Early Signs of Protectionist Merger Control in Korea? Probably No, At Least Not Yet

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Cecil Saehoon Chung, Kyoung Yeon Kim, Kyu Hyun Kim, Oct 29, 2014

In March 2009, China’s MOFCOM blocked Coca-Cola’s proposed $2.4 billion acquisition of a leading Chinese juice producer, China Huiyuan Juice Group, without much explanation, prompting some commentators to cry foul and protectionism and others to lament China’s missed opportunity to lay a foundation for its merger analysis under the newly enacted Anti-Monopoly Law of 2008. In 2010, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto abandoned their production joint venture proposal in the face of antitrust hurdles from various antitrust agencies including the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

Fast-forward to the end of 2013 when the United States and European Union rather unceremoniously cleared Microsoft’s proposed $7 billion-plus acquisition of Nokia’s handset business. Then, in February 2014, Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission came down with a number of conditions for approving the deal. Shortly thereafter, in April 2014, MOFCOM finally approved the transaction with strings attached. In the meantime, in neighboring Korea, faced with the KFTC’s continuing concerns, Microsoft and Nokia reportedly restructured the transaction in late April 2014 to make it a non-reportable transaction in Korea and promptly consummated it. Unfazed, the KFTC continues its merger investigation of the consummated transaction. As of October 2014, the KFTC is still investigating t…

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