Guidance on Transaction Value Thresholds for Mandatory Pre-Merger Notification

Click here to read the full article online

The 2017 amendments of the Austrian Cartel Act and the German Competition Act determine that mergers have to be notified if the transaction value exceeds 200 million Euros in Austria or 400 million Euros in Germany, in addition to further criteria, ensuring a local nexus. So far, it was only necessary to notify mergers to the Competition Authorities if certain turnover thresholds were met. The aim of the transaction value threshold was do adapt competition law to the structural changes triggered by technical developments. However, as these criteria constituted a novelty to Austrian and German competition law both authorities sought to provide further explanations with a guidance paper. Due to strong economic relations between Germany and Austria, the resulting obligation to notify mergers in many cases in both countries as well as the similar structure of the new thresholds, the NCAs decided to work intensively together to provide for the first time a joint guidance. The paper aims to offer users first assistance with interpreting statutory provisions and represents the current legal opinion of the Bundeskartellamt and the Austrian Federal Competition Authority on the applicability of the new provisions. This guidance had already positive effects for undertakings and both NCAs: apparently it could successfully reduce legal uncertainty as the number of requests have fallen after the publication of the joint guidance.