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Australia: Ex-competition head questions ACCC’s merger law reform

 |  October 14, 2019

Former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Graeme Samuel has joined business groups in disputing the need for new laws to block corporate mergers, reported the Sidney Herald.

The ACCC has asked for new powers allowing it to stop technology giants from buying smaller startups, if the merger risks preventing a potential competitor from being created. Australia’s current merger laws require courts and regulators only consider existing competitors.

The ACCC’s reform call follows an 18-month inquiry into digital platforms such as Google and Facebook, which have concentrated their control of digital communication by buying smaller ventures such as Instagram, Whatsapp, YouTube, and Double Click.

Professor Samuel, who was chair of the ACCC from 2003 to 2011, said he was “very hesitant about wanting to see a significant change to the law as it currently stands.”

“Let’s not rush to change law because all of a sudden the ACCC is not being successful in court cases,” he said, noting the regulator’s recent losses in contested merger cases.

However the ACCC’s proposed new laws would apply to all types of businesses, not just tech giants, sparking alarm from groups including the Business Council of Australia.

Full Content: The Sidney Morning Herald

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