The French Competition Authority has maintained its aim to modernize and simplify the merger control system, initiated in 2017, with the publication and entry into force on July 24 of its revised guidelines. This document replaces the guidelines of July 4, 2013.

Following the simplification of the notification procedure and the possibility for companies to notify certain mergers online, these new guidelines provide a clear and complete guide to parties involved in a concentration about the notification of transactions that may fall within the scope of French merger control rules.

The objectives of the recast: more visibility for companies

The purpose of the new guidelines is to provide guidance to companies on the scope of merger control, the notification procedure and the substantive assessment of concentrations by the French Competition Authority.

The new presentation of the French merger control system takes into account the results of the public consultation that took place at the end of 2019 and includes the Authority's decision-making practice and case law developments since 2013.

The aim is to enable companies to anticipate the elements taken into consideration by the Authority in order to assess how notifiable a concentration is under merger control rules, and its potential impact on competition based on the criteria detailed therein.

These guidelines provide parties with more visibility on the Authority's control procedure by explaining in very practical terms actions they should take, elements they must take into consideration and possible constraints they might face in implementing their project.

Important improvements: more efficiency in the notification process and its follow-ups

Prior to the merger notification, companies will now be able to apply for the appointment of a specific case team. Within five working days, the Authority will communicate to the notifying party the appointment of a deputy head of the merger control department who will be in charge of the case. This will allow them to start prefiling discussions in a more efficient way.

Within ten days from the submission of the file, the Authority will inform the notifying parties whether the notification file is complete, and whether the transaction can be examined under the simplified procedure.

The Authority is also seeking to clarify certain aspects of the competitive assessment of concentrations, in particular, the timeframe to be used for the prospective analysis.

The guidelines also include updated templates for structural commitments and trustee mandates, and clarifications about internal documents that may be requested by the Authority in connection with the assessment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.