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Australia’s Antitrust Watchdog Looks To Overhaul Merger Regulatory Framework

 |  March 30, 2023

The chair of Australia’s antitrust watchdog has suggested that the federal government revise its regulatory framework to require earlier notification from foreign entities involved in mergers and acquisitions.

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), noted that the informal regulatory system can sometimes hinder the regulator’s ability to proactively participate in global transactions due to delayed notifications. She added that the system is not always effective as intended.

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“We do need some change in our merger framework,” Cass-Gottlieb told the Australian Financial Review Banking 2023 summit in Sydney.

“Australia has an informal regime and does not require mandatory notifications,” she added, noting that this resulted in “either the ACCC either not being notified at all or (the prospective buyer) waiting and engaging in strategic behavior”.

The lack of specified deals involving intentional delay in notifying the ACCC was noted. There is currently a rise in overseas deals in Australia due to increasing interest rates impacting local asset valuations.