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China/EU: The gradual evolution of the EU Commission’s merger control decisional practice towards SOEs amidst an increasingly protectionist world

Kyriakos Fountoukakos, Camille Puech-Baron, Concurrences N°4-2017

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Investment by foreign companies into an economy—and in particular investment by companies owned by foreign states—raises sensitive issues. Should regulators be agnostic, treat those foreign acquirers as any private company and apply pure competition tests? Or should they be more cautious (some would say suspicious) and always think of the state behind those companies and take into account non-competition issues including reciprocity (is the foreign state equally open to investment?), impact on sensitive sectors of the domestic economy, and political concerns? These issues have come to the fore in recent years, in particular with regard to investments by Chinese state-owned enterprises (“SOEs”).

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