UK: Competition chief faces tech and Brexit challenges

As a new chairman takes the reins, and Brexit looms, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is facing a revolutionary shift in its role, reported Financial News.

The UK’s departure from the EU will mean the end of the European Commission’s remit to review merger and acquisition deals that affect Britain. For the CMA, that implies a lot more work.

After Brexit, incoming commissioner Andrew Tyrie told MPs, “the big‑ticket merger cases are going to come back”. Tyrie, the former chairman of Parliament’s Treasury committee, is shortly to take over as the CMA’s new chairman. He is expected to start sometime this month, and even before Brexit, he will have plenty to do.

There has been no recent shortage of CMA investigations into deals. On May 18, the authority confirmed it will investigate Sainsbury’s plan to merge with rival Asda, which would create a grocer with a 60% market share in the UK. The CMA also kicked off its “in depth” probe into the proposed merger of UK electricity firms SSE Retail and Npower, on May 8.

The authority’s similar probe of News Corporation’s attempt to acquire Sky closed on May 1, and its conclusions have now been sent, in confidence, to culture secretary Matt Hancock for a decision. In January, the CMA’s preliminary report ruled against the deal on media plurality grounds.

Following Brexit, the CMA has estimated it will have to review up to 50 additional merger cases per year, and do around six extra in-depth investigations.

Full Content: Financial News

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