COVID-19 and what it means for Merger Filings

Date 18 mar. 2020
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Introduction

In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the European and Danish competition authorities have taken steps to ensure the best possible protection of the rights of employees and parties in connection with merger filings that might be filed or processed in the near future.


The Competition and Consumer Authority

Today, 18 March 2020, the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs published an executive order which interrupts the Competition and Consumer Authority’s deadlines for approval or denial of merger filings for 14 days starting today. The Competition and Consumer Authority has not suspended the processing of merger filings and will seek to meet ordinarily applicable deadlines, but this ultimately depends on whether the Authority is able to collect the information necessary to make such decisions.


The deadlines affected by this interruption are stated in the Competition Act’s Section 12 d(1)-(5).


The Competition and Consumer Authority has announced that after the end of the 14-day interruption will reconsider whether an extension of the interruption will be necessary.


The reason for interrupting the deadlines is that in the coming time, it will prove difficult for the Authority to collect the information necessary from third parties as well as to conduct market research among consumers and companies in the same industry and carry through consultation procedures. In addition, the majority of the Authority’s employees are currently working from home.


The Competition and Consumer Authority has announced that it will seek to meet the ordinary deadlines as best as possible and that all companies that have pending merger filings will be contacted directly as soon as possible to ensure smooth processing.


The European Competition Authorities

The EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition made an announcement last week regarding the current operation of the Competition Authority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authority has launched a series of measures with a view to ensure that operations continue as normal as much as possible, while also recommending all parties to postpone, where possible, any merger filings until further notice. If the merger filings cannot be postponed, the Directorate-General for Competition requests that the filings are made online to the extent that this is possible. This request is also a security measure, seeing as under normal circumstances, filings must be made in person, but in order to avoid physical contact, the option to file online has been established.


The cause of the Commission’s announcement is most notably that it will prove difficult for the Authority to collect all the information necessary from third parties, just as the Authority’s employees may experience limitations in access to the required systems from their home offices. In addition, the Commission has announced that it expects to allocate as many resources as possible to the processing of questions regarding state aid, which is expected to be a rather significant area as a result of the COVID-19 situation.


Due to special circumstances in the relevant competition authorities, we recommend that all merger parties who contemplate submitting merger filings in the coming weeks contact the relevant authorities as soon as possible for the purpose of preparing the process as best they can.



If you have any questions or would like further information on the above, you are welcome to contact partner Pernille Nørkær (pno@mwblaw.dk) or Junior Associate Sarah Veje Rasmussen (svr@mwblaw.dk).


The above is not legal advice and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant that the content of the above is correct. With the above, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader's use of the above as a basis for decisions or considerations.