Partner Hugh Hollman interviews the Chairman of the Egyptian Competition Authority

Published Date
May 22, 2024
Now available on the Concurrences website is an insightful interview with Chairman Mahmoud Momtaz of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA).

In a comprehensive discussion with A&O Shearman partner Hugh Hollman, Dr. Momtaz delves into the intricacies of Egypt's antitrust regime, highlighting the ECA's structure, operational strategies, and its collaborative efforts with COMESA and the Arab Competition Network.

A focal point of the conversation is the transformative merger regulation set to take effect on June 1, 2024. It marks a significant shift from a post-closing to a pre-closing system in Egypt's merger control framework. This will introduce a new era of regulatory oversight, requiring mergers that meeting specified thresholds to be reviewed and cleared before the parties can close their transactions. More details on the new regulation are available here.

Key insights from the interview:

  1. The ECA merger control department's experience: Established two years ago, the department has gained valuable practical experience by working in tandem with COMESA on their cases, as well as with other Egyptian government departments such as the Ministry of Health, providing opinions on over 500 cases.
  2. Legal framework and timelines: The new regulation aims to ensure legal certainty, due process, and adherence to strict timelines. There will be an automatic clearance mechanism if the ECA does not respond within the set deadlines, i.e., the ECA cannot “stop the clock.”
  3. Notification and documentation: The new merger notification filing form is designed to collect sufficient information to enable the ECA to respond within the initial 30 working day review phase. The ECA aims to confirm whether a filing is complete within three to five working days, indicating the start date for the initial review phase.
  4. Data-driven approach: The ECA's Electronic Intelligence Department maintains extensive databases, such as those on the pharmaceutical industry, to inform decisions.
  5. Premerger consultations: The ECA encourages early discussions prior to filing to expedite the review process.
  6. Local assessment focus: While a filing can be triggered without the target having any Egyptian turnover, the assessment will concentrate on the local impact in Egypt.
  7. Simplified procedures in the future: Initially, there will be a single notification form. However, at a later date the ECA may introduce a simplified version, at a later time such as for transactions where the target has low or no turnover in Egypt.
  8. Collaboration with COMESA: Discussions are ongoing to establish a cooperative framework and COMESA is currently reworking its regulations.
  9. Digital accessibility: Guidelines, merger Q&As and application forms will soon be available on the ECA’s website, enhancing accessibility and understanding of the merger control process.

This podcast offers a rare glimpse into the strategic vision and operational dynamics of the ECA. For those interested in the evolving landscape of competition law in Egypt, this interview is an invaluable resource.

Listen to the interview via the Concurrences podcast channel here or watch the interview here.

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