Global trends in merger control enforcement

Antitrust authorities continued to disrupt M&A in 2023, frustrating more deals and stepping up scrutiny of digital and private equity transactions.

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Read Time
8 mins
Published Date
Apr 9, 2024
In this report we examine how antitrust authorities – particularly in the U.S., EU and U.K. – continue to take a tough approach to merger control enforcement and consider the impact on transaction timetables and the allocation of execution risk. We explore the complexity created by new and expanding foreign investment regimes and the EU’s foreign subsidy review tool. We also look ahead to what dealmakers should watch out for in 2024.

Regulators have focused their attention on mergers in the digital/tech and private equity M&A pharmaceuticals industries, while also scrutinizing below-threshold private equity acquisitions, sciences, transport, energy and consumer deals.

In technology, which accounted for 20% of deals blocked in 2023, authorities are looking at the impact on ecosystems, innovation and potential competition. Transactions resulting in data concentration as well as those involving AI are also in the spotlight, while the EU’s Digital Markets Act and forthcoming U.K. equivalent will require designated digital firms to submit information about all deals involving digital services, or that enable the collection of data deals, falling below standard filing thresholds.

As countries work to meet their green transition targets, we expect sustainability and environmental arguments to feature more heavily in merger control reviews, potentially overriding competition outweighing antitrust concerns. But some antitrust authorities (e.g., in the U.S.) remain sceptical of ESG considerations. A patchwork of approaches is emerging.

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Global trends in merger control enforcement 2024

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Content Disclaimer
This content was originally published by Allen & Overy before the A&O Shearman merger

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This report was developed by lawyers across our global antitrust group. You can read about their expertise below.