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The ACM’s Mission To Plug the “Small Acquisitions Gap”

 |  March 20, 2024

By: Mattijs Baneke (The Thicket)

In accordance with recent trends observed in other nations, Martijn Snoep, chairman of the ACM, has expressed the need for expanded competencies to scrutinize relatively minor mergers falling below the notification thresholds outlined in the Dutch Competition Act (DCA). The ACM asserts that even mergers below these thresholds can pose competitive challenges. Two distinct types of mergers are highlighted in this context.

The first category encompasses “killer acquisitions,” where established entities acquire smaller firms developing competing technologies either before or shortly after their market introduction. This phenomenon has received considerable attention lately, partly due to the resurgence of the “Dutch clause” within EU merger control regulations (as outlined in the Commission Notice on Article 22 EU Merger Regulation).

Conversely, the second type, known as buy-and-build strategies, has received less scrutiny. These strategies involve augmenting market share through a series of acquisitions of smaller entities, sometimes referred to as ‘roll-up’ strategies.

The ACM is apprehensive that such strategies could lead to detrimental concentrations of market power, particularly in markets characterized by limited geographical scope or niche markets, such as those within the healthcare sector.